“When you wake up one morning and decide that, from this day forward, you can do what you want, when you want, and how you want—you are retired.”

– Barry LaValley

There is an old story that can be used to describe how aging boomers think about retirement. A woman who was preparing a dinner for her family cut the end off of the roast before putting it into the pot. The daughter asked why she did this and Mom said, “I don’t know. That is how Granny always did it. Go ask Granny in the living room why she did it that way.” Granny’s response was that the pot she used was too small and that is why she always cut the end off of the roast. So some 40 years later the behavior continued without any thought or questioning even though they now had access to bigger pots.

If you were to ask the average person on the street to define retirement, they might say that retirement means that your work career is done and that you are moving to a life of leisure. Others may relate retirement to their financial situation and their ability to do whatever they want.

In American social history, there are few moments where an entire generation has made such a paradigm shift in lifestyle and outlook. As the first wave of baby boomers pass their 65th birthdays, they are faced with a collision of forces that will affect virtually every part of their lives. Concern about health issues, the changing nature of the workplace, family dynamics, and issues with parents and children. Financial worries will be the catalysts of change.

As a result of these forces, American baby boomers are about to reinvent retirement. They have to because the traditional view of retirement they inherited from past times no longer fits who they are. They couldn’t have known that, however, until they actually arrived at the doorstep and began to realize that their concerns, opportunities, and needs necessitated their own approach to this next phase of life.

“Retirement” is Becoming Irrelevant

In fact, the concept of retirement that we have accepted for many years will likely disappear from common usage in the next generation, or 25 years, as increasing numbers of boomers make the transition. This doesn’t mean that retirement itself will disappear; it just won’t mean what it used to for earlier generations.

The word “retirement“ or “retired” no longer refers to whether one is working or not. Instead, the concept of retirement has become synonymous with choice and freedom rather than with leisure and old age.

Others consider retirement to be synonymous with meeting their Super’s condition of release. This still suggests that at the end of work there is this thing called “retirement” as if it were a destination or the pot at the end of the rainbow.

The retirement assumptions based on society’s views of work, health and getting older will all be challenged. In the past, retirement was a right-of-passage that came automatically at the end of a work career. This period of life was even called “Third Age” to emphasize that it was part of a new life.

The Third Age model suggests that our first age was one of education, our second focused on our work careers, and our third age was one of leisure.

In a sense, the concept of Third Age no longer fits today’s model that encourages us to include elements of education, work, and leisure at all stages of our lives. Many Americans will continue to work into their sixties, seventies, and beyond. They will do so not because they need the money, but they have stopped demonizing the word “work” and consider as an important break from leisure.

Your Second Life—It’s in Your Mind!

The Japanese have an interesting concept to describe this phase of life. They call it “Second Life” and it refers more to a state of life rather than a workplace or financial issue. The Japanese believe that when a person reaches middle age, he or she moves into the “respected elder” position in society. The respected elder has gained a perspective on life that comes from introspection, experience, and perspective.

The interesting thing about the Japanese concept is that it relates more to who you are rather than what you are going to do. It is an internal concept. Entering Second Life means transitioning one’s mind into this next stage of life.

This is the period of time in your life when your family responsibilities have changed and you can focus on your “inner peace.” It is a time when you get closer to your soul and dispense your wisdom to benefit younger generations.

This next phase of your life gives you the opportunity to:

  • Find life meaning rather than resting. This next phase of life gives people the opportunity to tie their life plan more closely to the values and life goals that they may have had but didn’t have the time for when they were working.
  • Achieve life balance over lopsided leisure. While retirement for some is one long-weekend, your retirement can be a fulfilling combination of quality leisure, satisfying work, and pursuit of self-knowledge.
  • Realize lifelong dreams over time-filling fun. Goal setting can be a fun way for retirees to let their mind create wishes and then let their heads create the strategies to turn wishes into plans.

Connect with me so we can talk about how you want to live this next phase of your life. I can put together the financial strategy to help you get there, but we really need to share your vision of the future.

Joseph F. Falbo, CFP®, AIF®, CRC® is an independent LPL financial advisor that helps grow and preserve clients’ wealth using cutting edge, customized, and comprehensive strategies. With over two decades of experience, Joe helps clients to pursue and retain the lifestyle they want in retirement. To discuss your retirement goals or any financial topic you want, schedule a 20-minute complimentary call. To learn more about Joe, please visit falbowealth.com.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Certified Retirement Counselor (CRC) conferred by InFRE®