Calling for a mindset shift

I want to outlaw the word ‘retirement’ from the vocabulary. Basta!  To upgrade our mindset around the concept of retirement.


Because the word commonly brands you as OLD, a senior citizen, it indicates that end-of-life is nearing, and it classifies you as undesired or unworthy of being an active, creative, or productive contributor to life.

Who wants that? A mindset shift is needed.

Are you following society’s expectations to retire?

The official retirement age differs depending on the country you live in, but the usual range is between 65-67. And in some countries, like my native country, Iceland, retirement is mandatory.

Some people can’t wait for their official retirement, while others dread it. It’s often a stressful time because of disruption of habits, uncertainty, and uprooting from the status quo, community, and colleagues. Add to that loss of meaning, relevance, and belonging — and many people can feel they have lost their identity.

Choosing the golf course or something more purposeful?

When I lived in Santa Fe, I remember meeting Kent, a successful businessman who was so excited to retire in the Land of Enchantment — New Mexico. His dream was to spend most of his time polishing his golf swing while enjoying the camaraderie on the golf course. But it didn’t take Kent long to be bored out of his mind and realize that he needed a different game plan if he was going to thrive. He swapped the golf club for a community association he co-founded with other visionary leaders, based on the mission of strengthening the local economy by educating people and organizations on the importance of keeping businesses local.

Kent found a way to channel his youthful life force, experience, interests, creativity, and vitality into purposeful activities. And he made sure he didn’t fall prey to the current concept of retirement, for example, the saying, “Retire early, die early.” Instead, he went for his preferred opposite, “Retire late, die late.”

Write your own life book with as many chapters as you want

Since I was a young woman, I have seen life in chapters, like in a book. Many of my chapters have been close to what you would expect in length. Others have been quite a bit shorter than I planned, as life happens, like when my Dutch husband passed away and left me a widow with two small boys at age forty. That forced me to start the next chapter without him and move on.

When you are writing a book, you can choose how many chapters you create. But when it comes to your work life, society has come up with a hard-stop rule for how many chapters you are supposed to have, based on an old paradigm that’s said to have originated in Germany in 1889, when the German government started paying retirement pensions at the age of 65. The average lifespan at that time was only 50 years.

But that’s not the case anymore. In the 21st century, we are living longer with better nutrition, health care, and lifestyle choices. Some experts claim we are moving into an era of centenarians — 100 years old!. In America, centenarians are the fastest-growing segment of the population, followed by the age group 85+. What does that tell you?

How many more years are you planning to live?

At 65, the wellness guru and New York Times bestselling author of I Have Decided To Live 120 Years: The Ancient Secret to Longevity, Vitality, and Life Transformation, Ilchi Lee, intentionally decided to live 120 years. He came to this decision after realizing that his limiting belief about ageing had clouded his perception of how he could live a creative and productive life into older age. He decided to take charge of the design of his life versus following the social norm of retiring at 65 and starting to fade away.

What Ilchi Lee also realized was that if he lived to become 120, then at 65, he was only halfway through. What on earth would he do with the rest of his life?

How young are you, really?

Japan has the longest life expectancy in the world. The Japanese people often use a calculation method to reveal their physical and mental age and well-being regardless of their actual age. It’s simple if you want to try it. Multiply your current age by 0.7, and you get the age you are more likely to feel like rather than how many years you have lived.

This means that a 40-year-old is like a 28-year-old, a 60-year-old is more like a 42-year-old, and an 80-year-old is like a 56-year-old. And don’t we often hear that the 60 is now the new 40?

People want more out of life

Now, let’s come back to my disdain for the word ‘retirement.’ I feel the concept of retirement plus the attached concept of withdrawing from work and contribution to society, creates a mental box that people are supposed to squeeze themselves into and dwell in till the end of their days. But if we are fortunate enough to have good health, we have so much left in us at 65, potentially 25-30 years. Sometimes people do their best creative work in their later years.

I have no desire ever to retire. I want to be vibrant and engaged till my last breath. I want to continue to dream, learn and grow, to take on new challenges and projects, keeping my mind sharp and my spirit high, with my curiosity, nurtured and my creativity expressed.

And I’m not alone in rejecting the concept of retirement. Last week, I spoke to Tom, a senior executive at a large social media agency in New York who contacted me about executive coaching. Tom doesn’t intend to retire either, he told me. Like so many professionals coming out of the COVID-19 period, he is actively looking at his personal and professional life and wanting to dream in a new life story that has no space for retirement. He envisions a life that incorporates more of his passions and purpose, keeps him mentally curious and strong, and allows him to be of service to humanity by contributing to the co-creation of our future. We need more people like Tom.

So what about you? Please join us in replacing the so-called retirement period with your later years lived through many new chapters designed intentionally by you, full of passion and zest for living? Let us know.

And if you have a suggestion for a replacement word for ‘Retirement,’ please share.

Resources for you

Are you one of the highly successful professionals who have woken up to their deep desire for more purpose, fulfillment, and meaning in their personal and professional lives? 

Sadly, too many people find themselves later in life living as the hollow remains of their unfilled dreams because they bought into the cultural norm of playing it safe at the expense of their passions, creative expressions, and higher purpose.

If you are ready to dream again in a supportive and safe space with other like-minded people, check out the True Power Mastermind by clicking on the image below to find out more or visit here:

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Charting a Thriving Future Visionary leader. Bold futurist. Conscious powerhouse. Rúna ignites possibilities for personal and business growth with her inspiring voice. A champion of evolving power dynamics, she shapes the narrative of leadership and business, crafting a regenerative future. Fueled by a deep commitment to societal change, this former CEO and serial entrepreneur co-founded several social-impact initiatives, demonstrating her passion for a better world. As the architect of meaningful change, Rúna invites forward-thinking leaders to join her on a journey toward a thriving world.