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Is “retirement” a dirty word? Not exactly.

retirement is a dirty word

This blog post was inspired by a topic posted in the Stitch Member Discussion Forum. The post, “Pros and Cons of ‘Retirement'” spurred an animated discussion around what our diverse membership thinks when they hear this word. A previously positive concept, “retirement” is now somewhat controversial. If you’re a Stitch member, you can join the discussion here.

Sometimes called “dirty,” retirement is increasingly viewed negatively by aging baby boomers who feel that retiring is some form of giving up and knocking at death’s door.

Michael Hyatt, well known podcaster and blogger, associates retirement with murder. He writes, “If you’re looking for a way to murder your heart, then congratulations. That’s it.”  He also encourages his readers to remove the word from their vocabulary altogether!

Sound extreme? Well, it isn’t! This concept has gone mainstream. From the Huffington Post blog to the Boston Globe, word has gotten out that congratulating someone on their “retirement” very, very risky.

It’s clear now that “Retirement” seems to have evolved from something associated with living to something associated with dying.

But why?

The baby boomer generation, now the biggest in many countries, was born thinking they would live to about 70 years of age. So, retirement at “65” as the retirement is a dirty wordstandard gave them 5 years to “enjoy” before leaving this earth. But now, they’re living to 80, 90, and 100 and retiring at 65 would give TOO much time off. Baby boomers are terrified of ending up in wheelchairs, of the stereotypes of aging and the old saying “if you don’t move it, you’ll lose it” or in other words, if you retire, you stop moving and die.

More importantly, there are major financial concerns and retirement is no longer an option for many. Living an extra 10, 20, or even 30 years means much more money is needed to sustain life after incomes have dried out. Others become redundant and have a forced retirement leaving them with very few financial resources. Some have to sell their homes and move in with their children. In that scenario, retirement is no longer the relaxing, happy fantasy it once was.

Retirement: Not so Dirty After All?

“Retirement” is not a dirty word. Rather, it is now a rare privilege rather than something that’s expected as given in the Western world. And those that do retire? It’s up to them to make the most of it. It doesn’t mean they’re useless or rotten, or used up. It means they don’t have to rush out of the house to get somewhere by 9am. It means they don’t have to wear uncomfortable jackets and shoes. It means they can take time to exercise and volunteer without sheer exhaustion. This is what the members of Stitch have told us and why they look forward to every day of “retirement.”

Retirement is actually just a transition. A transition from one daily routine to another. Will it be living by the beach like in all the marketing of the 1950’s? Or will it be volunteering in natural disaster zones? Will it be a full-time unpaid babysitting job for grandchildren? Will it be an Uber driver? Or writing and publishing a novel? Or maybe you’ll just continue your current work but on your own schedule!

retirement is a dirty wordRetirement is not dirty. Retirement is possibility.

At Stitch, we support turning retirement into an adventure. We provide opportunities for our members, working or not, to engage and stimulate in online and offline interests whether that’s group travel to destinations they only dreamed of, a global book club to finally read all the books on your list, or learning a new language with another member.

If that sounds like something you’d like to get into, click here and sign up for Stitch today. The “possibilities” are endless…



  1. Martin Krohne

    As I look for to retirement, I do not understand why it has come to mean death. For me, I will be retiring from a career that was a compromise between what I love to do and what would actually support me and my family over the last 5 decades. I worked hard to get to the point that I won’t have to worry about making this much money all the time. What I am retiring from is a career that worked well for me over the last 32 years. I’ve done it. I have no reason to continue doing it. What I am retiring to are the activities I have had to squeeze into the ever decreasing time I had left after all other responsibilities were taken care of. I do not see this as death, but as a transition. Personally, I am looking forward to pursuing my natural creativity full time and finally being able to spend a lot of time on the things that are important to me. I will not be sitting on the couch watching TV 24/7 – though I may do it off an on from time to time. If you see retirement as stopping your life, then don’t retire. For me, it is a change of profession. Artists are not revered in our culture – maybe they are only revered when dead. So unless you want to spend a life scrounging for a living, you have to do something else. That is what I have done and what many others I know have done. Now its finally my time to create full time. I don’t care if nobody else cares. I will stop creating when I can no longer breathe.

  2. Robert

    If I wanted to knock on death’s door i’d do it now before retirement, but I love my free time to much, I like going to the gym, going out, watching TV, learning new things, playing computer games, having meals out, Listening to music, There’s many places in the world i’d like to visit and many hobbies I’d like to take up, Work is an hindrance but we must do it for an income. Am 53 and was looking forward to retiring at 65 but the government put it up to 67 and stole 2 years from me. I hope am still as fit when I do retire.

  3. Ros

    The 12 year olds who conduct job interviews, the 30 somethings in killer heels that are used to stab their competition and the 25 year old marketing gurus seem to think of anyone over 45 as past their use by date. It’s up to us to enlighten them.

    1. Martin

      I sense some resentment here. I will agree that job hunting after 50 is more than challenging and that many companies claim they are looking for “fresh blood” when what they really want is a cheaper work force. It is up to us to show the world that life does not end when you live past the former life expectancy of human beings (40). Most of us accomplish quite a lot in our first 40 years. We can accomplish even more in the next 40 because we have experience, skills and knowledge we didn’t have even 10 years ago.

  4. Deborah

    As someone who grew up with very much younger siblings, I felt like I have been working since I was 11 when my brother showed up followed a year later by my sister. Those years when I should have been out playing like most of my contemporaries were spent care-taking along with cooking and cleaning. So, when I got inheritance money in my mid-50’s it was a blessing as my chosen field dried up in the crash of ’08. Now that I’m nearing early retirement age I relish the freedom I have to do what I want, when I want and with whom I want. Publishing a self-help book, starting a Reiki for Vets program, doing more traveling, and helping people wake up is what I’m all about now. I thank God every day for my life and my intention is for everything that I do to be for the highest and best good of everyone involved. Simple, heart-felt, and uplifting!

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