11/05/2014 09:09 pm ET Updated Jan 05, 2015

Sell That Rocker: Retirement Isn't About Slowing Down Anymore


When I speak with women who have ostensibly retired and ask them to tell me about their lives, I often come away feeling like I need a nap. They are on the go all the time. They have become entrepreneurs; they have farms; they are consultants; they are DJs; they head foundations. Whew!

Marsha says she's busier now than she ever was before retirement. She's created a national organization called Be Kind that addresses how students treat each other (she doesn't like the label "bully"). She travels the country, sometimes in her own yellow school bus, visiting schools to speak about how we treat each other, to entertain, and to give out badges to those who take the Be Kind pledge while heading this growing organization.

Connie knew nothing about female weavers in rural Afghanistan before she founded ARZU in 2004. Now, she's totally immersed in this initiative to provide a better life for the weavers and some of the most beautiful rugs I've ever seen for the rest of the world.

Jeannette was interested in social media but didn't know much about it. She was thinking there might be something that she could do to earn enough extra money to support her bridge habit (I learned from her that people pay to play). I suggested a blogging course, and she now has her own blog and a social media business so successful that, even though she has the funds, she has a hard time finding the time for her bridge games.

Although she had a busy life -- volunteering, taking courses, leading a few seminars -- Pam was bored and wanted more. She went to ReServe, an organization that places retirees willing to work part time for $10 an hour in a wide variety of organizations. Pam is now tired but happy as she works three days a week in ReServe's central office placing other retirees.

Kathy didn't just retire. She moved from Manhattan to Maine. After a varied career that included working in advertising agencies, coaching artists on sales skills and selling real estate, she's now embarked on a new venture -- a DJ for her local radio station.

There are many more stories. For the most part, we don't retire. We simply shift gears. We try something new. We go back to careers we've long abandoned, finding them newly intriguing.

What will you want to do next? What have you thought about exploring? The "bonus decades" provide us with the opportunity for all kinds of new adventures. Although several of the women spoke with launched new endeavors after 80, why not start much sooner? By the time you reach fifty, it's good to have a list of ideas. This could include anything you want to explore - different careers, places to live or visit, activities. Try something different as often as you can. Spend a week in a place that you're considering as your next home. Take a course. Sign up for a working vacation. There are organizations that will arrange for you to spend your vacation trying out a job that has always intrigued you.

Have fun!