To Plan or Procrastinate

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There are a lot of ways we can define ourselves, but when it comes to planning for the future we seem to fall into one of two categories: planners or procrastinators. Planners are few and far between, but us procrastinators … Continue reading

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Time to redefine re-tire-ment (noun)

The interest in exploring word roots is one that came to me during my master’s thesis.  It is an investigation that shows us how time and experience can change our perception of meaning.  Though I am by no means an etymologist, I do enjoy researching the origins of a word and am often surprised by what I learn and the perspective it brings.

The practice of researching words came to mind as my partner and I began the launch of our new division ASAP (Architectural Solutions for the Aging Population). In  trying to articulate some ideas about retirement, based on some interviews we had done , the definitions of retirement were so at odds with conversations we were having with ‘retirees’ that we decided to explore the origin of the word RETIRE.

First the definition: 1) to withdraw from action or danger : retreat,  2)  to withdraw especially for privacy <retired to her room> , 3) to move back : recede, 4) to withdraw from one’s position or occupation : conclude one’s working or professional career, 5) to go to bed

Now the word root: retire: 1530s, of armies, “to retreat,” from M.Fr. retirer “to withdraw (something),” from re- “back” (see re-) + O.Fr. tirer “to draw” (see tirade). Meaning “to withdraw to some place for the sake of seclusion” is recorded from 1530s; sense of “leave an occupation” first attested 1640s (implied in retirement). Meaning “to leave company and go to bed” is from 1660s.

To leave a company and go to bed?!? Perhaps in 1640 when the life expectancy was 35 years old and you worked until you actually had to go to bed that phrase was appropriate.  But today, turning 65 looks a lot different today than it used to; people are starting their second or third career, running marathons and chasing grandchildren around.

That leaves us with the question: if the definition of retirement is so off, is the architecture that supports retirees and their families equally disconnected? From our research it is and we want to help change that landscape.  Our hope is that this blog can be a conversation to help us understand what are the needs of retiring baby boomers and how  can we empower them to live the life they want.

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