All of Webster’s definitions for the word “retirement” sound extremely negative — for example, “to withdraw from action”; “to move back”; or “to conclude one’s professional career.” These phrases are so ominous. They are implying that life as we know it is basically over, that the best was in the past and we might as well just hang around and wait to die.
Of course, I intend to refute these outrageous and negative implications. Because we live much longer now than when the word “retirement” became commonly used in the workplace, many of us interpret retirement as a stepping stone to what we really want to do. Additionally, at this point, we might have the luxury of putting our own wishes first instead of last, if our first career included the responsibilities of raising a family and other important priorities.
I have friends who always had a “Chapter Two” plan. Just thinking about it and imagining the fun they would have helped ease some of their burdens in Chapter One. Being positive and focusing on their future lives might also end up being a factor in their enjoying healthier lifestyles and longer lives.
One Chapter Two scenario involves accidentally falling into a new, exciting and creative vocation that was totally unexpected and completely unrelated to the Chapter One career. For example, there are countless stories of people achieving artistic and musical success in later years. These talents were just waiting inside people for the right time to be “born.”
One of my friends is a former CPA who now has a thriving business renovating and re-designing houses. Her husband, a former engineer with a Ph.D. in computer science, is enjoying his new career as a virtual/digital real estate photographer.
I have to include myself among these Chapter Two folks. I am a former employee of a large insurance company who worked in a cubicle, and now I have the immense pleasure of being able to work as a freelance writer.
It might take finding within ourselves an extra bit of self-confidence and motivation to start a second career, but the satisfaction from finding success when it was totally unexpected is a big reward.
And, maybe, if we live long enough, we will find that third career lurking on the horizon.