The Complete Retirement

The Complete Retirement

So much of what we do is routine. For many of us, each day starts with a jolting noise from an alarm clock, followed by the standard ritual of getting dressed for work as the local weather and traffic report plays in the background. And there is certainly nothing wrong with that; there’s comfort in following a set schedule. But what happens when that routine disappears? Much of retirement planning is focused on building your nest egg — and rightly so. But many retirees haven’t given enough thought to the other side of the equation. What do you want to do during your retirement? After all, golf isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

“I’m planning to retire in the next year or two,” says Howard Burrell, whose current schedule belies any intent to slow down. Five days a week, Burrell, 62, commutes two-and-a-half hours from his home in Glenwood, New Jersey, to Trenton, where he serves as an assistant director in the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. He and his wife, Reba, 61 — an elementary school teacher — would both like to retire in the not-too-distant future.

Burrell says he’s tossing around a few ideas for his retirement. Once his wife steps out of the classroom he might enter. “I want to teach, perhaps at a historically black _college,” he says. “As an alternative, I’d like to serve as an administrator in higher _education, especially if I could be the president of a community college.”

The bottom line, then, is that Burrell is not planning to spend his retirement on the couch or even whiling away time on leisure activities. He is looking forward to the “new retirement” — golden years that might be demanding but also rewarding in ways that go beyond a paycheck. And by no means is he an exception. Of the adults surveyed in the 2006 Merrill Lynch New Retirement Study, 71% said that their ideal retirement _included work in some capacity.

With health advances, the average length of retirement is getting longer. _Consider that black men who reach age 65 are expected to live another 15.2 years, up from 13.2 years in 1990. At the same time, the life expectancy for 65-year-old black women is another 18.6 years, up from 17.2 years in 1990, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. So, many people can look forward to a long retirement — too long, for some, to spend traveling or dining on early-bird specials.

To meet the needs of the legions of baby boomers that are starting to retire, various coaching and counseling services have arisen to help with planning. The North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement, a program of the University of North Carolina–Asheville (, was founded in 1988 to encourage seniors to remain active and share their expertise as vital members of their communities. Ronald Manheimer, executive director of the NCCCR, says pre-retirees and new retirees should ask themselves if they have a dream about what they will do next: launch a second career, travel extensively, move to