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Let’s Retire the Word “Retirement”

What does the word “retirement” conjure up for you? Thoughts of a permanent vacation or an “End of the Road” sign?

This phase of your life isn’t either one of those. Oh, for a while it may feel just like a wonderful vacation. Enjoy every moment of it – you earned it. And, like all vacations, it will end. Then what? It certainly is NOT the end of the road. That is old paradigm thinking. Sure, in 1935 when Social Security came into existence, we were not expected to live beyond 65. Today at 65 we are just starting a whole new wonderful chapter of our lives.

One thing what might help shift our mindset about retirement is changing the word we use to refer to this time of our lives. According to several dictionaries, the word ‘retire’ means to withdraw or retreat to a place of privacy, shelter, or seclusion. But, do you really want to withdraw or retreat from life? I don’t!

‘Retirement’ conjures up a lot of images and stereotypes that are no longer descriptive of what we are experiencing today and they definitely play into the “End of the Road” mindset. I personally can’t bring myself to say that I am ‘retired’ because I do not wish to identify myself with the old stereotypes.

There have been numerous attempts to replace ‘retirement’ with words like ‘reinvention,’‘reimagination,”’ and ‘rewirement’ none of them are sticking. I tend to use post-career or Third Act because those words describe where we are on the time-line of life but don’t have the same old baggage.

I think theLatin Americans have the right idea. Their language does not have a word for the concept of ‘retirement.’ Instead, they use the word jubilación for the post-career stage of life.Jubilación means jubilation in English and the root word is jubilee or celebration. In one of her Ted Talks, Isabel Allende, the Chilean author, said that using jubilación for the post-career stage of life makes lots of sense. She said it means that “we have paid our dues. We have contributed to society and now it is our turn.” It means it is a time of abundant possibilities.

This time of your life is your turn to make your life whatever you want it to be.

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