If you type ‘Retirement images’ into the Google search engine you come up with a host of joyous messages, visuals of happy couples relaxing on sunset beaches and silver-haired groups with big smiles keeping active. If you look more closely, in between are a few messages about finding purpose, funding, planning. A study by Harvard Business School found that while the relaxation and rest can initially feel well-earned, the novelty does wear off. The researchers also found that their sample described themselves by what they used to be, “retired accountant, retired teacher….” because they fear being be seen as someone who has been ‘put out to pasture.’
Does this resonate with you?
Edmund Phelps received the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2006, now in his mid-80s he is not slowing down. As he says, “The world of work is a dynamic place and it’s a fantastic place for testing yourself and showing what you can do, achieving and discovering and exploring, all of that goes on in the wonderland of work.” He also notes that those carrying out physical labour are not going to have the same opportunities to work on into their late 60s, 70s or even 80s as he is. He is a classic example of how those “who work with their brains” can continue indefinitely.
But for those who work in a physical environment, who use their bodies in their work, your typical blue-collar worker, continuing to work into their 70’s is not so simple. Our bodies do slow down and an employer will usually choose a young, agile worker over an experienced older person who is slowing down. This is the first major inequality amongst retirees – those who can continue as long as they want, and those who are unable carry on working because of reducing strength and stamina.
The second inequality, as proposed in an article I read in BBC News, refers to countries where the retirement age is being drawn out (thus far this is happening mainly in first world countries, for example France). Those who have the funds are looking to retire earlier not later, and those with inadequate investments want the freedom to continue working until they are no longer physically able. Again the division seems to fall between white and blue collar workers. Typically blue collar workers earn less and have therefore had less money available to invest for retirement.
What bridges this divide, though is that work gives our lives structure, variety, stimulation, meaning, relevance ……. Put simply, work makes us feel needed and gives us a clear sense of direction. In one word, work gives our lives Purpose!
How then can we bridge the transition into retirement, without losing our Purpose? That is where retirement coaching can be really beneficial.
Drop me a line or give me a call on +27 82 868 6160 ir you would like to chat about it.