Retired Me? No Way!

The other day I was at my local bank branch doing some business and the teller asked me how I was enjoying my retirement. Hearing that surprised me but then I realized that they had a message on their computer system that identified me as a retired employee of the bank.

For some reason I felt the need to defend myself and started to explain that I in fact was not retired, that I was busier than ever running my blog, selling my book, serving as a retirement coach and doing public speaking. But then I had a sudden change of heart and decided to stop what I was doing. I realized that defending myself was the OLDME raising its ugly head again and I don’t like OLDME anymore.

Label Me Anything But Retired!

The word retirement is being thrown around these days describing so many things from the old style “full stop” retirement to everything but the kitchen sink. I believe that lack of clarity is causing confusion for a lot of people these days.

Why should we automatically label someone retired just because they decided to leave a job which in my particular case lasted for thirty six years. We have to stop thinking this way. Maybe the company feels it is a way to connect with customers, but many people like me are tired of having to explain to people that they are not retired. In my case a better message on that bank computer would have been survivor or even better escapee. Now that is something I would enjoy having to explain to people. I would have a lot of fun with that.

The word retired is not a good description of what is really happening out in the world these days. Few people really “retire” if you think about it and because of that I have developed a really narrow definition for the word.  Retired to me means that you have decided to pull back from life, when your unable to take care of yourself, when the game is almost over. Everything before that is living and today that period of healthy living post primary career could last for twenty plus years. You better find some interesting things to do with all that time or boredom will set in and boredom can end up killing you.

Victory Lap vs. Retirement

Our book Victory Lap Retirement has nothing to do with being retired. Think of Victory Lap as a time of celebration for all the hard work and sacrifices that you made over the years. It’s finally your turn again to do the things that you want to do.

We wrote the book for people like ourselves that want more out of life, for people that say to themselves “I didn’t come this far just to come this far.” At this point in our lives with most of our major obligations now behind us it’s out turn again to do what we want to do, what we feel we need to do in order to live well. In my case I felt the need to continue working maybe it’s better to call it participating but I wanted work that would be fun, give me the flexibility I craved as well as generate some active income so that I could fund the many future adventures that I have planned for me and my family.

The book is really about lifestyle design and work (paid or unpaid) is one of a number of key components in that design. The goal in Victory lap is to create a low stress fulfilling lifestyle for yourself, one that would give you a good reason to get out of bed in the morning, and one that would optimize the quality of your remaining years.

Bottom line, we have paid our dues and now we finally have a chance to do what we always dreamed about doing. Why would you ever consider retiring when you have an opportunity to really start living again?

Is It Time To Replace The Traditional Retirement Party?

I felt weird attending my own retirement party because most everyone there knew I wasn’t retiring, I was leaving and I although I did not know at the time, I was going on to big things. Can you say Victory Lap!! The Corp. felt the need (obligation) to give me a party along with the traditional retirement card.  Now don’t get me wrong I love a good party, but truthfully I would have much preferred a bon voyage party and card, something with a sail boat on it.  Now that would have been fun!

I think we are celebrating the wrong things at these parties. Instead of celebrating leaving (escaping) from something, why not celebrate what lies ahead for us. Why not give a speech about all the great things you have planned for your Victory Lap. Now that is something worth celebrating about!

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12 thoughts on “Retired Me? No Way!

  1. Financial Samurai Reply

    Try a new response! Say, “I’m unemployed!” with a big grin.

    That’s what I did for my first year after early retirement in 2012. It required a lot of ego hitting, but it allowed me to feel free.


    • Mike Drak Post authorReply

      Thanks Sam I will give it a try. Totally agree with you freedom is such a beautiful thing!


  2. Allan Jensen Reply

    Once again you’ve nailed it Mike. I too cannot count the number of times I have struggled with the correct response to “So….you’re retired? What do you do all day?”. I seem to be working on putting a number of legs under my stool, and that suits me just fine. If only I knew a witty response to that question though!……

    • Mike Drak Post authorReply

      Thanks Allan. When they ask me if I’m retired I’m going to say heck no I’m doing my Victory lap and then smile as they get that puzzled look on their faces.
      I might even get a few t shirts made with VL on them!

  3. Emile Mourad Reply

    I am working on my ‘Start up’ an adventure that will last 25 plus years!!
    That is how i answer the question of how i am doing or what i am doing!
    Good article as usual..

    • Mike Drak Post authorReply

      Emile I like your use of Start Up. I also like how you described it as your new adventure. That`s the way we need to think, it`s all about putting the fun back into living!

  4. Simon Chan Reply

    Mike – I had a similar experience when I went to Michigan to watch some basketball with my son over the holidays in December and I knew at the time that I would be telling my employer that I would be leaving in early January. So when the custom’s officer asked me where I worked and what I did when crossing the Port Huron/Sarnia border, I thought to myself – what will be my answer the next time I cross the border? Up to the point of reading your book, I guess the response would have been I retired early, I’m unemployed, or I’m an independent consultant…but now I can say I’m in my Victory Lap! The traditional definition of retirement is becoming increasingly dated much like the defined benefit pension plans that most of the baby boomers enjoyed. I wonder what GenX and Millennials will call Retirement when they eventually get there…my guess is the word retirement will be retired by then!

  5. Mustard Seed Money Reply

    I’m a little while off from retirement but I can see how you would struggle to say that you’re in retirement especially with all the things that you’re doing. Sounds like you have some busy retirement plans 🙂

    • Mike Drak Post authorReply

      I was liking you until you said “Sounds like you have some busy retirement plans”. Please understand “I’M NOT RETIRED” I’m just doing my own thing from now on. 🙂
      Have a look at this week’s Victory lap profile which should be out on Thursday. It’s about a couple that have developed a great lifestyle, they are both in their late seventies and they are anything but retired.

  6. Vicky Walker Reply

    I am finding that I can share that I am on my Victory lap, which, interestingly enough was a term I used a year before the book was even out (how cool is that?!). Sometimes people want to know more, some nod politely.
    Another choice, when there isn’t time for a fully follow-on dialogue is that I say “I am ACTIVELY retired” There’s enough in that one added word to make folks perk up a bit and at least get that it is different than what they are used to. Some will ask and I just say “I ain’t done yet”. Not even close.

    • Mike Drak Post authorReply

      I like the ‘I ain’t done yet” might have a T shirt made with that on it! Welcome to the community.

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