Reported by Liku Zelleke
Experts say that retirement is an opportunity to start a new chapter in one’s life, not the opposite. It is “not a time to wind down and move off the playing field,” says Ken Dychtwald, a gerontologist and the CEO of Age Wave, a research think-tank on issues related to aging.
“Many are wondering: ‘What can I do with this stage of my life that is perhaps my highest purpose?’,” says Dychtwald, who is also a psychologist and the author of 16 books on the topics of aging, health and retirement. His company has done research on retirement for over 20 years and he and his colleagues have identified five stages of retirement and how people can make the most of them.
Stage 1 – Imagination: These are the 5-15 years before retirement where people are usually busy raising kids or caring for parents. They should enjoy the vitality of this stage while preparing oneself financially. “You should do everything you can to build a strong and solid financial base that will last you a lifetime,” Dychtwald says.
Stage 2 – Anticipation: About 5 years from retirement, people start thinking about what they’ll do in retirement but there aren’t many places for them, according to Dychtwald, and many want to continue working. Others want to devote their time to family, friends, learning or enjoying their hobbies or acquiring new ones.
Dychtwald recommends finding another career or starting a business. Volunteering is another option.
Stage 3 – Liberation: This starts on retirement day and people often feel fantastic. But this elation only lasts for about a year, Dychtwald says.
“Enjoy it. You’ve earned it,” he advises. “This is a time to relax, recharge and possibly even retool.”
Stage 4 – Re-engagement: A year to 15 years into retirement, people wonder who they are and some even have identity crises. They miss their colleagues and feel bored.
Dychtwald suggests doing some soul searching and looking for a second career. Reading books and doing some online research helps.
Stage 5 – Reconciliation: This starts at about ages 70 to 80. This is the time to share values and life lessons with children, grandchildren and even the community. Writing or recording experiences down should be considered.
“Thanks to the ever-increasing longevity, many of us will have decades to learn, teach, play, work and re-invent ourselves again and again after our core career has ended. Perhaps it’s time to retire retirement,” Dychtwald says.
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