January 2, 2017

A Satisfying Retirement Re-Vision

Retirement is a poor word to describe what happens to many of us after our working days are over. It implies ceasing to do much of value, withdrawing, concluding something. It means the end of something but not the beginning of something else. It suggests leaving an active life behind for one of leisure.

While that depiction of retirement was probably a better fit for earlier generations, today nothing could be further from the truth. With a decent commitment to healthy living, using our financial resources wisely, and filling our days with activities that motivate and please us, this stage of life can easily last twenty or even thirty years. That is much too long for us to be content with simply filling our days with golf or reading, TV, naps, and having dinner at 4pm!

Along with everyone else who has been blogging, writing books, producing TV shows, or otherwise being involved with this stage of life, I have been searching for a word to replace retirement. Retread, reboot, and reimagine have been used by others. While clever, none seem to express exactly what I think retirement should become.

As I thought about this problem during the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, another word came to mind. I'd like to have you think about it, and give me your feedback. If I am on to something, I would modify the name of this blog to incorporate this new word and keep it front and center as a way of talking about this time of our life.

The word that might better describe this phase of life has some of these definitions:

  • alteration
  • adaption
  • different edition or form of something
  • modification
  • refashioning
  • remaking
  • revamping

The word is revision (the post title gave it away!).

What is important is the presentation of the word. As commonly used, you may think of revision  as something an author does to a book, a screen writer does to a movie or TV show, a teacher does to her course syllabus for the new semester. Something is revised, freshened or improved.

But, if I add a hyphen, the word becomes re-vision, or a new, revised, and different vision of something, in this case, a life. A re-vision of this part of my life means I am altering, adapting, remaking, refashioning myself to take advantage of the freedom and time I now have. I am forming a new vision, a re-vision of what has been up till now. 

Unless I am off base and had too much eggnog over the holidays, the word re-vision seems much more accurate than retirement for how we live.

Okay, so changing a word may not strike you as a big deal, and you may be correct. What we name something is simply a convenient way to identify something. But, in the case of retirement is it possible this outdated word defines how others see us, or we see ourselves?

A Satisfying Retirement Re-Vision...yes or no?


  1. How about "Re-Visioning Retirement" or "Retirement Re-Visioned"? I also like Remaking Retirement. I think the "satisfying" part is implicit in the revisioning...

  2. I like it with the hypen. I'd also add for me the word transformation since that's what I plan to do for the next chapter. I have 2-3 more years to go and I'm getting excited about the possibilities.
    Happy New Year!

  3. My first thought is "a rose by any other name . . . is still a rose". I guess I don't really get a word change. I do like Lydgate's suggestions.

  4. I don't know Bob, I am not impressed (ha)

    I like the idea of retiring from one life to enter the next. It is kind of like the old saying when one door closes the next one opens. It is a chance for a paradigm shift for those who want to try something else. It is not that the one I am leaving was so terrible but instead about just doing things differently. To me the term re-vision insinuates that I got it wrong the first time and need a new vision to correct it. But maybe that is just me.

    I think I will stick with retirement.... Ha... But thanks for the thoughts my friend

  5. I like the idea of a new name because we are definitely changing the definition of what retirement is all about. But I'm not quite sure of the word "revision." It seems a bit passive, suggesting that retirement is just a minor shift in our lifestyle when, in fact, retirement is much more radical than that.

  6. Maybe A Retirement Re-Vision? If you drop the word Retirement from the title, no one will find you if they do a web search for "retirement blogs." I have mixed feelings on this one: I like the word retirement on one hand.. I feel I have definitely retired from one chapter of my life to the next.. and there is some REST involved! ANd I like the feel of the word.. being a reformed Type A.. Working years were so hectic! I have retired that part of me.But we ARE constantly re-visioning, all the time, as we play our way into the next phase,which, for people our age is often 20-30 years ... a long time!! ANOTHER WHOLE LIFETIME! I think a SATISFYING Retirement does represent this material pretty well but I see the idea of wanting to share the idea that it is not a retirement from LIFE, just from paid work (mostly..since a lot of retired folks work a little,like Ken , but still considers himself mostly retired..) Well.. I am sure you will get lots of comments and we'll see what you come up with!

  7. Bob I'm with you 100%. I loath the term retirement. The definition of retirement is terminated, concluded. I'm far from retired. I also believe society does view retirees as washed up, declining, playing golf, napping, watching too much TV and eating dinner at 4 pm. The word retirement must go! Happy New Year to you and Betty.

  8. I agree with RJ. Many words have multiple meanings. "Retirement" works for me.

  9. I'm not specifically addressing your question, but I thought of you when I heard one of the news items on NPR this morning about "Design Thinking." I haven't thought fully through it yet, but when I listened I thought some of the comments about how to re-boot one's life might apply to retirement thinking. It was odd to later open your blog and find you were thinking along those lines as well, but searching for a name to call this phase of life (But maybe it isn't a "phase." Perhaps segmenting it off this way could be examined in and of itself. Here is the LONG link to the NPR item from today (1.2.2017):


  10. Words always fall short, don't they, when we are trying to describe something beyond words. How can one word, or even several, capture the depth and richness of this stage of life? You changed the blog name once to A Satisfying Journey, as I recall. Then you returned to A Satisfying Retirement. So there is something about identifying this stage, as opposed to earlier stages of life, that seems important.

    Some folks have a negative association with the word, but your blog has gone a long way in rehabilitating the word to reflect a stage of life full of, well, satisfaction!

    In labeling this stage of life, we are acknowledging that we have shifted from, as they call it in Hindu culture, the householder stage. We are not starting out on a career (or rather we are not starting out on our first career!), we are not raising our young children (although some are raising grandchildren). We are in a different season of our lives.

    I suspect that for some of us, our associations with the word retirement are linked to our associations with being in this stage of life, by whatever label. Just a thought.

    At any rate, I revel in the word. I love the combination you have created of associating retirement with satisfaction. Perhaps you could be satisfied with the title? Ha!

    1. I like Galen's thoughts of "transitions" and retirement just being one of them. You could also make retirement itself into several transitions. Active Retirement is the first of several stages. The final transition would probably be static retirement where all we have left is to enjoy each day as our limits allow us. Life's Transitions .....

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. I am not opposed to the word retirement as such. I think rather than changing the words, we should expand the defitnion for a different time. And I also agree with Madeline, that leaving the word retirement out will limit your searches (although I suppose if you label every post with retirement). Unfortunately I have found no word I like as an all around substitute. As someone who was an at home wife (with and without kids) for years, this is much like that. While I understnd the difficulties with the term well, I never found a reasonable substitute be it household engineer or volunteer.

  13. I don't have any problem with the word retirement. It is the time in my life when I can pick and choose what I do. The word retirement doesn't have any negative meaning for me.

  14. I agree, the word retirement has a lot of negative connotations. I love the Spanish word for retirement which is "jubilado "and links to the English word "jubilation" . Now that's a word that exudes positive connotations but not sure we would get the English speaking world to adopt a Spanish alternative to retirement.

  15. I was just thinking about this the other day. A friend asked me what it was like to be retired and I found myself saying, " in many ways it is reminding me of being 17 or 18 years old again, with the world of opportunities spread out before you." I remember that time as one of "imagining" my future life and career. What would I do and be? I feel that way now, often. I am finding myself "re-imagining" my future again... so that is my term: Re-Imagination of LIfe.

    Rick in Oregon

  16. I like to call my pending retirement an extended sabbatical because it's a paid (pension-supported) opportunity to learn and grow outside the usual work grind.

  17. Perhaps "Revisioning (a Satisfying) Retirement?" or "Reimaginging (a Satisfying) Retirement?" (h/t to rainguynw).

    I'm one of those that doesn't mind the word retirement, and find no negative connotations to it. Whenever there's a pull-down menu and one of the choices is 'retired,' I never feel bad that I don't get to check one of the working categories any more.

  18. I read every comment and I actually like "Retirement Reimagined". I quit my last job six years ago and I can tell you I am busier than I ever was when I worked. My life has expanded in ways I never expected. The only difference I can see is that I don't get paid for what I do now. But I know I am making a difference.

  19. Until I read this, I hadn't thought about the ways that "retirement" does NOT describe what I am doing with this stage of my life. Before I got to your list of alternatives, the word that popped into my mind was "re-engagement" -- not in the sense of becoming engaged with the world again after a period of disengagement, but in the sense of engaging in a way that is markedly different from engagement via paid work. -Jean

  20. I can see your point about wanting a different word to identify the changes that you are going through and have already gone through after withdrawing from your previous career. I like the Hindu concept mentioned by one reader of the "householder" stage of life, and then no longer being in that stage. But since retirement is so many different things to different people, I'm not sure that refusing to use that word is a good idea for those of us who write blogs designed to help people who see themselves as ready to retire or already retired. We kind of need to use their language, if we want to reach them. After they find out blogs, then we can alter our terminology if it helps to explain our perspectives.

    In my field (speech communication), we came up with the concept of "symbolic convergence" about 30 years ago, to refer to the process of a group of people coming to agree on the words they should use to describe what they thought and what they experienced. This process happens in the U.S. every time there is a new president or a new phenomenon of some kind, and people have to develop a vocabulary to describe the situation. If we are to revise the concept of retirement, it will take quite a while and need to involve thousands of people who agree to use a new vocabulary to refer to the new way that they conceive of the period after they withdraw from their main career and achieve a certain age - like 50+.

  21. It seems everyone has their own association with the word retirement.I actually like the word. I'm proud to say "I'm retired," especially since it took me 3 years to get the hang of it! Most people do know that it means retired from work, not life. I actually like your blog name SATISFYING RETIREMENT..It says it all! I know some retired folks who LIKE not doing too much, and some who can't stay in one place..I think the focus on the "satisfying" part is what your blog is about..

  22. I think the problem is not so much with the word "retired", but rather with how we value people in our society. We put a great deal of value on people's work identity and status, and tend to see paid work as people's only or primary social contribution. Often the first question asked when you meet someone is, "What do you do?" Hence, there is a negative connotation if someone does not engage in paid work, and that is reflected in the awkwardness of naming other social roles, such as being a homemaker, raising one's children, being unemployed, contributing voluntarily to organizations, or being an elder who no longer does paid work.

    As long as we define our social status primarily through work, changing the name by which we call retirement will not make a difference. Instead the new name will gradually take on the negative taint of the old name. Consider how we have referred to people with cognitive disabilities over time: idiot, mentally retarded, mentally handicapped, intellectually disabled, intellectually challenged, differently abled. Although I think each of these new labels is less denigrating that the previous one, the real problem lies in our discomfort with difference, just as the problem with the label for retirement lies in how we value people's social roles.

  23. What I love about your question, "should we rename 'retirement', is that it has lead me to think about what I need (want, expect, should) to do to re-vision my life since my recent (2 month) retirement. What you have done for me is to label "Retirement" as the current category of my life's work and "Re-vision" as one Action Item bullet points in that category. Thank you!!