Revitalizing After Retirement

Spring 2002 CSANews Issue 42  |  Posted date : Apr 05, 2007.Back to list

What do you really want now that you've retired? Is it the chance to fulfil your travel dreams? Is it time to volunteer for causes that you're passionate about? Or maybe you've always wanted to start your own business?

"How we think about retirement is shifting dramatically," says Pam Churchill, a Toronto-based consultant who works with people in the second half of life looking for personal and career renewal. There's even a whole new terminology to reflect this growing new attitude.

Several factors are fueling this change. If you look at demographics, people are living longer and healthier lives, making it more possible than ever before to take an early retirement and live life more on their own terms.

On the flip side of the coin, there is the economic aspect of retirement to consider. Many people are fearful about what the public sector will provide in old age. As Pam points out, people need to save more, work longer, or both. (According to a recent Alberta Advanced Education and Career Development study, approximately 50 per cent of retirees say they still want either full-time or part-time work.)

Many who spent years working toward retirement, only to ask "What's next?," have found a way to re-energize after 'retirement' and lead vital lives well into their advanced senior years. In many cases, personal interests play a key role in this process, even to the point of developing into a new kind of work that uniquely fits their temperament and lifestyle.

Ed Gibney, for example, recently found himself on national TV news talking about his latest venture. The vibrant 86-year-old shed the 'seniors' mantel - "Don't ever call me a senior!" he insists - and literally jumped into a new career as a personal trainer. Not only that, but Ed's making a transition to his third career.

At an early age, Ed taught himself to play a variety of instruments and later went on to teach music for the Vancouver board of education. By age 55, he was forced to resign from his teaching position because he was losing his hearing. Undaunted, Ed decided to pursue another aspect of his passion for music, and spent the next 25 years successfully publishing and marketing the specialized techniques he had developed.

During that time, Ed became more and more interested in the aging process and discovered that you can slow aging by exercising every muscle in the body every day. "I'm constantly amazed," he says, "at how much energy I have!" His interest in body awareness goes right back to his boyhood, when he took correspondence courses offered by legendary strongman Charles Atlas.

Ed's so excited about the exercise technique that he's developed based on Atlas's isometrics that he says, "I want to make people more aware of their bodies. I want to inspire them!" To that end, he's about to pitch a series based on his techniques to various television networks.

Or take Wayne Taylor. Wayne worked for 27 years in the petrochemical industry, spending part of that time as a human resources generalist. In the latter years of his career, his employer Petro-Canada downsized and, within two years, Wayne retired with a buyout package.

He wasn't interested in contract work with his former employer, although he'd been offered the chance. Instead, at age 58, Wayne started his own home-repair business called Let Wayne Handle It. He'd always enjoyed working with his hands, especially around the house, he says. So he decided to start his own painting and wallpapering business.

"People ask me, 'How can you go from working in an office for so many years to a job getting your hands dirty?'" But he just smiles and tells them, "I meet a lot of wonderful people on the job. And, I get to pick my own hours!"

Retirement can mean a lot of different things to different people. Wayne acknowledges that it can be a traumatic experience, but it doesn't have to be. "The important thing is to know how to fill your time in a way that's satisfying for you, and to keep an active lifestyle."

Above all, balance is essential. Look at your life as a portfolio, says Pam. Think about how much time you have for work, recreation and fitness, volunteering, family and personal development, and figure out how much time you want to devote to each.

With a plan in place, the second half of life is where unfulfilled dreams can be realized.