Over a 1000 people retire every day in Canada. As the wave of baby boomers is starting to retire, the number of people 65 and older will double 3 times between 2010 and 2030. With the average first retirement age now at 58 and longevity continuing to increase, individuals can expect to live 20, 30, or even 40 years in retirement. While financial planning for retirement has now become quite popular, planning for the non financial aspects of this life stage remains a hit and miss proposition. Most people still spend less time preparing for this time period than they do for a 2 week holiday. No wonder almost half of retirees are dissatisfied with their lives and 20% experience depression.

Up to now, too many have looked at retirement as the beginning of the end: a time to rest, travel a bit, and play a few rounds of golf before biting the dust. Now boomers especially want more out of this time in their lives than leisure and relaxation. They are seeing retirement as a time of renewal and rejuvenation, as one last chance to pursue some neglected lifelong dreams, a chance to contribute to the world around them, and answer the age old questions of their identity and purpose on earth.

The truth is that this should be a standard of retired life for everyone. Many psychologists have proposed that the third age is the ideal time to do so. Jung, for example, tells us that the process of individuation is to be entered into fully in the latter part of life. Individuation is a process of seeking after self knowledge to discover who we are, what our goals are, and how to accomplish them. It offers each one the possibility of choosing his own direction, his special purpose, and attaching meaning and value to his own life. It leads thru integration and self exploration to the realization of our selfhood and the actualization of the potential immanent in us.

Abraham Maslow tells us as well that the highest motivation in an individual is the need for self-actualization. It is that need, which is addressed after lower ones are satisfied, that drives us to seek to be all we can be. According to him, the clearest specieshood of humanity is seen in the psychologically mature and healthy people who are attracted to the unknown and the spiritual. Depression, boredom, and illness occur with intelligent people leading stupid lives.

Carl Rogers, noted humanist, tells us that the fully functioning person has growing openness to experience, an increasingly existentialist lifestyle, great inner directedness, freedom of choice, and creativity which will lead him or her to a rich full life. He tells us that this process of the good life involves the stretching and growing of becoming more and more of one's potentialities to launch oneself fully into the stream of life. Our mature years are thus ideally suited to fulfill this approach.

Retirement offers us the freedom and opportunity to clarify our sense of purpose and identity which can then lead us into a very meaningful life stage. Yet this is not an existentialist approach that can live in a vacuum outside of our personal and social context. Rather, it is meant to be inclusive and supportive. For example, the economic uncertainties of our times may force you to stay at work or return to work in order to make ends meet. Or if you are financially secure, you may design a lifestyle that is very productive thru a new career or business venture, or by furthering your education, pursuing educational and leisure travels, volunteering, and spending time with family and friends.

These activities, however, can become part of an integrative way to express a greater purpose and a greater sense of identity that is no longer dictated and bound by career or family roles, but rather by an emerging inner sense of rightness, transcendence, and wholeness. Thus, it speaks to the essential need for careful planning and reflection to create a retirement lifestyle that is both productive and meaningful.

Author's Bio: 

Louis Têtu is a Life and Prosperity Coach, as well as a Certified Retirement Coach who specializes in retirement planning, life balance, dream realization and prosperity manifestation. He does talks and workshops on retirement planning, life balance, and prosperity manifestation. He can be reached at 613-440-1072 or lifeandprosperity@rogers.com