In Mitch Anthony’s book, The New Retirementality, he provides a modern perspective of what retirement really means. This book is a great resource for federal employees who are considering what they want from retirement. Retirement was first seen as successfully coming to the end of toil and starting a life of ease and leisure where there was no structure, purpose or goals. A trend developed where retirees were going back to work. Mitch feels this is because traditional retirement is an unnatural condition that runs contrary to the preservation of the human spirit.
An Outdated Concept
Retirement at a predetermined age is an outdated concept. The decision of when to retire should be based on inner desire. “Work can and should be an expression of one’s soul and a means for making a meaningful contribution to the world we live in.” An individual’s aging process hinges on choices made regarding activity, involvement and attitude. Mitch has developed a Retirement Life Profile which guides potential retirees on how to retire with purpose. The first section of the profile is vision, retire to something. The next is balance, having both vocation and vacation. Third is work, remaining plugged into meaningful pursuits to avoid falling into boredom and aimlessness. Last is successful aging (s-aging), a focus on growing and well-being.
Seek a Retirementor
Another important resource when considering retirement is a “retirementor”. Potential federal retirees should seek out people who are already retired and thriving to show them how to live with vitality and vigor. This is also important to help avoid the retirement whiplash which can occur when there is no specific purpose, plan or meaning in retirement. A quote from the book that summarizes how others see someone living an unfulfilling retirement is, “first you’re bored, then you’re boring.” Much emphasis is made to be financially ready to retire, but retirement may fail if there are no new goals set to replace work goals. Mitch offers the cure for retirement whiplash: finding a way to serve others and avoiding idleness and aimlessness.
Less Need to Totally Disengage
During the Industrial Age when the idea of traditional retirement began, pay was exchanged for physical labor and soulless tasks. In the Modern Age, pay is exchanged for intellectual, relational and experiential capital. This change resulted in a change in retirement needs. Now there is a need for more balance between vocation and vacation and less need to totally disengage from the work that once defined the individual. Work is defined as an engagement that brings value to others and meaning to me. A Working Benefits Questionnaire helps federal employees rate the benefits they receive from working to help them choose where to contribute in order to bring the greatest value and absorb the greatest level of meaning.
Return on Life
Mitch discusses a term he has coined, Return on Life (ROL). With ROL, the conversation around building wealth is more toward living rich as opposed to simply getting rich. The question, “What is the money for?” should drive how individuals manage their means. Investing on purpose is deciding up front why we want the money and deploying those means in a fashion that fuels meaningful pursuits. This involves Financial Life Planning, which addresses the uniqueness of each of our life issues as they relate to investments and other financial decisions.
Mitch’s book is a great read that provides plenty of examples to illustrate his points. The New Retirementality is a fantastic tool if you are wrestling through the decision of when to retire or even what to do in retirement.