What are you doing for the next 20 years?
Retirement means very different things to each of us. For some, it’s the old-style American Dream of what I call “I don’t do very much, and I do it slowly” where you work to a certain age, cash in your chips and take up a life of leisure. No work. No worries. And certainly no responsibilities.
But, here’s the rub. Here’s what’s missing in this picture for me, and apparently for a lot of other retirees and boomers who are just starting to think about what retirement might mean for them. Purpose. I’ve talked to so many women who’ve been retired one or two years and while they’ve enjoyed the freedom to toss out the alarm clock or sip coffee and read the paper when others are lining up like lemmings for the morning commute, these friends are starting to feel the itch to do something more. Something meaningful. Something that feeds the soul, or the creative spirit, or maybe even leaves a tiny reminder that we were here and it made a difference.
These days lots of people are re-inventing retirement. Many are leaving old careers to create new ones. On their own terms. Remember when we told our kids “You can be anything you want to be.”? Well, we said it but we didn’t always believe it, and many of us (me) didn’t actually do it ourselves either. I had bills to pay and work, meaningful or not, was how I paid them. Today’s retirement is our second chance to be anything we want to be and we’re going for it – by becoming senior entrepreneurs, re-claiming long lost passions like painting, fly-fishing, or running. Some of us are exploring new creative outlets: cooking, travel blogging and anything else we can dream up. Yes indeed, our generation is once again doing what we do best – making waves and creating change. We are turning that old-style retirement model upside down. And why not? We’ve got 20 or 30 good years ahead of us after we turn in our office card key and name badge. Let’s make them the best damn years of our lives. Lives full of passion, purpose and meaning. Let’s be busier than ever creating joy and spreading inspiration. Let’s make a difference and have fun while we’re doing it.
That’s exactly what these recent winners of the Encore.org Purpose Prize are doing ~
A hearty High-5 to Ed Nicholson, the 71 year old founder of Project Healing Waters. Ed, a retired military man, founded Healing Waters to help disabled soldiers and vets heal from the physical, mental & emotional toll of war through fly fishing. Cast by cast, line by line, his organization is making a difference in lives across America.
Congratulations to Nancy Armitage who launched an encore career that combines her professional experience, creative joy and family history when she created Memories in the Making. Supported by the Alzheimer’s Association, Nancy’s organization brings the power of expression to those who have lost their words due to Alzheimer’s. Through Nancy’s inspiration, art becomes their voice.
And finally, a You Go Girl to Vicki Thomas, who, at 64, was a successful marketing and PR executive, but felt something was missing in her life. When she saw a CNN news story about Dale Beatty and John Gallina, two injured Iraq vets who where changing lives, she knew immediately what she had been missing: a higher purpose. Vicki picked up the phone and cold-called them with an offer of help and a desire to make a difference by joining their Purple Heart Homes project where among their many services, they are adapting foreclosed homes for wounded soldiers.
This is not your grandmother’s retirement. Our generation is living longer and stronger. We’re taking up causes big and small. We’re sharing our experience and our expertise. We’re going back to school. We’re heading out to see the world. We’re re-igniting our creative spark. Just like the Raging Grannies, we’re making noise. We won’t go quietly into the night. We’re starting a Retirement Revolution and I want to be part of it.
How about you? Rocking chair or revolution? Or, maybe a bit of both?
What began as an idea for a diverting day trip for soldiers has evolved into Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF), the organization Nicholson, 71, founded to help disabled soldiers and veterans heal from the physical, mental and emotional toll of war through fly fishing.
Cast by cast, line by line, it’s reshaping the lives of thousands of veterans across the U.S. Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing now has 158 programs in 48 states as well as affiliates in Australia and Canada. In 2012 alone, 2,300 volunteers invested 122,000 hours to work with 4,000 wounded warriors.
– See more at: http://www.encore.org/ed-nicholson-0#sthash.JHVCHQhs.dpuf