Because of the image it conjures, we’ve come to dislike the word ‘retire’. Marketing people, authors and psychologists are trying different words for this period, such as; reinvent, rewire, retool, and rejuvenate to find an acceptable replacement.

In looking at the multiple definitions of retire, it actually may be a good descriptor of this period. Most people think of retirement as a form of withdrawal. This can be not only a withdrawal from work, but of life as well.

Another definition of retire is ‘retreat’. Retreat is an interesting word because it has two dissimilar meanings. In addition to meaning ‘to recede or move back’, retreat also means ‘to go inward’ or ‘a place for spiritual growth’.

This new definition of retirement is a good descriptor of what psychologists mean when describing second growth. Second growth occurs after you have fulfilled the responsibilities of creating a home, raising a family and earning a living. It

Second growth is a time to shift your orientation from the external to the internal. It is the opportunity to explore who you truly are and express your identity through your activities. With second growth, you now have the opportunity to live life on your own terms and to express yourself fully.

Somewhere between the early 40’s until the mid sixties, most people confront a turning point or a defining moment in their lives. We used to refer to these as a mid life crisis. Something happens; an illness, job change, divorce or children leaving home where people begin to question the meaning of their lives.

The stereotype solution was to go out buy a new sports car or have an affair with someone half your age. That resulted in a continued state of unfulfillment.

Think about all of the externals you use to create your self-worth; homes, possessions, the promotion that gave you the corner office, having your children go to the best schools. There is nothing wrong with any of these things-really. We’re biologically programmed to want them.

We live in a society that has capitalized on that need through extended marketing. The satisfaction of externals is ultimately fleeting. None is permanent and when they change, often so does our sense of self.

The shift in focus from the outer to the inner doesn’t mean you don’t care about externals. It means the external no longer defines who you are. Initially, there is a sense of loss from the old identity. “Who I am if I’m not the breadwinner, lawyer, teacher, mother that defined me in the past?”

As you begin to let go of these old identities, what you will find is a new freedom to explore and become who you truly are and who you want to be without the shackles of the old roles.

Cathy Severson, MS helps you make the most of your retirement. Baby boomers understand this isn’t your parents’ retirement. Find out how to make the rest of your life the best of your life with the complimentary e-book 7 Ingredients for a Satisfying Retirement at

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