serene ambition™

transforming the culture of aging

Navigating Retirement

Posted by Jim Selman on 01/5/07

I think it’s wiser to forget about whether we can retire or not based on what our working status or financial situation may be. If you think you have to work, then there is a natural tendency to moods of resignation, disappointment and, sometimes, resentment. People get depressed whenever they are trapped in a story that limits their self-expression and turns them into victims of the circumstances. This could be important to consider if you will continue to work past the time when you thought you could retire.

If you want money for some purpose (whether to meet your basic needs, sustain a particular lifestyle or to have enough to give away to others), then do what you always do when you want money. Make an offer to an existing organization or, if you’re an entrepreneur, find someone who needs what you have to offer and then deliver. The exchange is money.

From this point of view, we are always engaged in work until the day we die. How much time we spend earning money is a choice — not a fait accompli based on an arbitrary event called retirement. I know that retirement doesn’t seem arbitrary when organizations and countries have rules about the age one ‘must’ retire. But I prefer to think that the individual chooses to retire the organization (rather than ‘from’ the organization) and that our choices don’t end when we leave one source of income.

Like actors, musicians, filmmakers and consultants whose whole careers involve moving from one project, client or organization to another, we can realize that there are no ‘endings’—just another ‘what’s next’. When people ask me what I am doing, I say I am working on a new project. More often than not, they are a lot more interested than when I used to give them my title and job description.

At the end of the day, retirement is a state of mind. It is whatever we choose to make it. The word ‘retirement’ isn’t going to go away. But perhaps if enough of us make it less significant and don’t give our power to it, then we can create retirement as a time worth celebrating, an opportunity to complete a chapter in our lives, and a time to reflect on who we are and what we really value and love—and then commit ourselves to that.

Retirement is analogous to navigating in a sailboat: the water and the weather don’t care which direction we’re going, and the choice is 100% ours.

© 2007 Jim Selman. All rights reserved.


One Response to “Navigating Retirement”

  1. Wonderful blog! I found it while searching
    on Yahoo News. Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News?

    I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Many thanks

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