Newsletter #434 – Retirement: Not Just for Old People

Most of my peers are retired but to this point I have not chosen to join them. Unlike some of my same-age friends God has blessed me with good health, energy, opportunities to keep working full time, and younger friends who help keep my thinking fresh. Retirement is not mentioned in the Bible and it doesn’t dominate my plans for the future. Even so, I would be unwise to ignore it. None of us keeps going forever. Loss of health and forced retirement can hit hard and unexpectedly. Anticipation of the later years needs to start long before we get there. This is the theme of an entire issue of American Psychologist (April 2011) focused on the psychology of retirement. Here are highlights relevant for people at any age including ourselves, our parents and the people we coach, counsel or lead:

  • Retirement is not a single event. It’s a process involving decisions, planning and adjustments over the years.
  • This planning needs early and consistent attention throughout one’s working life, in part because of changing government policies, fiscal threats to benefit plans, and evolving attitudes toward aging
  • Most people who plan early can make their own decisions about their later years. Wait too late and somebody else decides your future.
  • Retirement decisions involve three ongoing phases: imaging the possibility of retirement, assessing when it is time to let go, and making the transition into retirement as effectively as possible.
  • Decisions must involve: How will I afford it? Where will I live? Who will I share it with?
  • Old images of retirement (rocking chairs and golf carts) are being replaced by plans to launch new careers, experience the later years as a new stage in life, and move toward new goals, even when financial and physical resources are limited or declining.

Preparing for retirement and making adjustments is not limited to the elderly. Helping others prepare for the later years is not limited to specialists in geriatrics or gerontology.

Please share your comments or experiences about retirement or helping others plan and adjust.


    1. Loren, you already have had two or three good careers. But you can be primed for something better to come. I confess that it a little disconcerting to read about my former students thinking about retirement. Are you still thinking about getting into coaching?


  1. I am 10 years away from early retirement and I am thinking about how and if I can afford it. I would love to be able to do something different from what I am doing now.


  2. I am (74) and 9 years on government retirement, but still working full time like you Gary, I too have no plans to stop yet. I have asked my colleagues and co-workers to tell me when to stop though.If they make any remark in that direction my plan is to discuss with them how fast this should be. No problem what to do then. There is always a need for prayer for the ministry, the world and time to worship the Lord Himself, until He calls me home. Téo


    1. Téo
      I like your attitude. I have two friends who are younger than me and committed to telling me if they see that I am slipping cognitively so that I cannot speak well in public or write clearly. (So far, apparently I am doing OK). If somebody else does not alert me to these things I will never know. First my friends will know, then the world will know, then I would know – unless I have people who can help me to stop or to change my activities when the time comes.


  3. Gary I think it is important for society to realise that retirement is no longer an inevitability. One of the best books I have read on this is called:
    “Avoid Retirement and Stay Alive” by Bogan and Davies. I actually do coaching and counselling in this area. I personally underwent a career transformation at 50 (a number of years ago now) and see myself in my current space for as long as I am able as I believe I am now doing what God has called me to do to the extent he intended which includes me now being a PhD student which I did not see coming but is proving to be a wonderful experience so far. I hope to achieve this as my 60th birthday present to myself and who knows where to from there.


    1. Carol,

      Bravo to you for tackling a PhD program at an age when most people would never entertain such an idea. Instead of retiring I ask myself what God’s calling for me is now. For some people it might be retirement, especially if they have health limitations. Clearly that’s not for you at this point.


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