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Retirement as a life passage

Retirement … that much anticipated, long awaited, often glorified passage of life.

As much as we anticipate it, idealize it and plan for it, the change and challenges it brings can be both unexpected and difficult.

Despite all the planning, what is seldom talked about is: how will people live when their lives and roles are radically changed?

Most people largely define themselves by what they do. From the moment we wake up, to how we introduce ourselves to others, it provides us with structure, predictability, challenges, a social context, purpose and even power.

The baby boomers, true to form, are reinventing retirement. The New Retirement Survey study by Merrill Lynch builds upon conventional wisdom that “boomers are not interested in pursuing a traditional retirement of leisure.” The study found that 76 per cent of baby boomers intend to keep working and earning in retirement, expecting to “retire” from their current career at around age 64 and then launch an entirely new job or career.

Some boomers are choosing to slide gradually into retirement, networking with people and organizations as they transition from full-time work to mentoring or consulting situations.

Websites such as and post employment opportunities, mentoring, coaching and peer support programs for those wanting to stay engaged.

The New Retirementality: Planning Your Life and Living Your Dreams … at Any Age You Want , by Mitch Anthony, is a great resource book with a “cleverly named concept that should be of interest to anyone uneasy with the traditional requirement that we drop one portion of our lives — the working part — simply because we have reached a certain age.”

Another excellent book is Place at the Fire: Living the Second Half of your Life on Purpose, by Richard Leider. This book is for “people who are ready to stoke the wisdom gained in the first half of their lives to burn with a brighter sense of purpose in the second half.”