The Skills of Rewirement

I’m 65. I’ve been looking forward to this time of life because of the freedom. No endless deadlines. No one telling me where to go and what to do. Plenty of free time and free choice. What an amazing privilege. In fact, in the context of history, freedom for people of relatively modest means, for as long as most of us are likely to live, is almost miraculous.

It’s usually called “retirement.” Too bad we can't just call it "freedom" instead — because the word “retirement” seems to scare a lot of people. They see it as a grim trudge toward the exit. Decline and fall.

For a few months after launching this blog and subtitling it “Skills of the New Retirement,” I kept trying to convince myself and anyone who would listen that “retirement” is just a word. We can invest it with whatever meaning we want. It’s meaningless.

But it’s not.

I still watch expectant faces fall into grimaces when the r-word comes up. I still see the old stereotypes hobble out of the closet like skeletons rising from graveyards, chasing away perfectly good readers who might like to hear what I have to say if it weren’t for that frightening word.

So I’ve tossed it overboard.

In its place, I’ve coined “Rewiring After Work.” It’s less threatening. Perhaps more fun. It implies reprogramming, re-patterning, revitalizing. That’s the opportunity. And it takes skills.

What skills?

The soft skills, ways of handling the emotional transition away from middle-age into older age, away from intensely full-time work into greater freedom, into growing rather than stalling, and being our best because, after years of full steam ahead, many of us finally have the time to practice.

Now’s our chance to engage meaningfully with ourselves, others, and the world. To have better relationships. To get healthier. To try new things. To break old patterns. To cut loose and experience more. To be more aware and thus more alive. To have the time of our lives.

I'm no expert. But I am curious. With this blog, I'm exploring that transition, those skills, and this time… of rewiring.

So the bigger question is the bigger title: What now?

I’ll let you know.

Tony Leighton