The Little White Lie: Redefining Retirement

Outing the Little White Lie: We’re Not “Retirementing” Ourselves, We’re Reinventing Ourselves!

“Retirement” – it’s a term we all know, whatever age we are. I would guess it probably calls up different meanings to different people. Here’s today’s question for you Little White Liars:  Are we redefining retirement? Is retirement the very best thing that can happen to you?

John Tarnoff, Reinvention Career Coach and author of Boomer Reinvention: How to Create Your Dream Career Over 50 joined us again on this week’s Little White Lie FB Show.

Watch it here for the full version to help us answer this question:


He is what you might call an ‘Anti-Retirement Advocate!’

John tells us: “Retirement is an outdated concept.

Redefining Retirement

Even when you think of the meaning of the word [retirement: the action or fact of leaving one’s job and ceasing to work], why in this day and age would anyone want to retire  — to go to sleep, sequester ourselves off in some strange prison (is the word that comes to mind), where we’re no longer engaged in our lives? I feel ‘younger’ [at 65], more engaged, more vital, more curious, more appreciative of life at this point than ever … I for one want to continue to earn a living.”

Well, I couldn’t agree more! I’ve have had at least three careers in my life.  First as a recording artist of children’s music. Next I served for 16 years as a cantor and officiant. Currently I’m a media-visibility consultant and Digital Diva. I guess I’m a poster child for re-invention!  

And now I’m committed to my passion, the Little White Lie Movement, and to all of you Little White Liars in the world.

So let’s talk about “re-invention” and what it means. John feels it’s a term that is used by today’s culture and press in “flippant conversation, like, Oh, look at so-and-so who’s just reinvented themselves with a whole new life and isn’t everything wonderful?” In reality it’s not like that — it’s tough to make that switch in our lives.  “Reinvention is not for the faint of heart,” he warns.

What the term does speak to, in John’s view (and the reason he wrote Boomer Reinvention), is exactly how you make that pivot. What are the techniques, the tools, the practices — and the mindset — you need to adopt in order to change your life around, in order to continue to earn an income, to either save the job that you have or figure out a better job?  “I put the book together to promote the idea that there is a future for us that’s an active, engaged future, and here’s how to do it.”

Isn’t reinvention a luxury? Many of us Boomers need to work!

As John also shares with us, most of us need to continue to earn a living after the arbitrary retirement age of 65, because we may have under-saved for retirement; have aging  parents whose care we are supporting; we also have grown millennial children who are, in 30% of the cases, still living at home and slow to launch, etc. So why are people telling us that we are done?? gives us these stats: A 65-year-old man has a 41% chance of living to age 85; 20% chance of living to age 90. A 63-year-old woman has a 53% chance of living to age 86; a 32% chance of living to age 90.  My plan is to be around til I’m 90 at least!

How do we reframe the whole retirement/reinvention concept in our minds so we take that next step to live our best lives?

John suggests we start by “getting rid of labels.” Instead, it’s about what’s inside us as individuals, the cumulation of our life and work experience, interests, passions — all of it. In addition, he shared this gem with Gayle King on the CBS This Morning show (Feb. 7, 2017): “We all have earned this right to have meaning and purpose in our careers. We know who we are, what we’re capable of, what we like to do, how we are going to enjoy getting up in the morning and going to work for the next 20 years of our lives.”

Here is how some of our Little White Liars weighed in:

“I think no matter what we call ‘it,’ we should ALWAYS pursue our passion, no matter the age!!”

“No labels, yes! Because those ideas change during our lives.”

And finally, “We need to make our own opportunities.”

Yes!  Now remember, reinvention is not a pop-culture pipe dream, not for the faint of heart. So, John has some tips to help us:

  • Get really clear and specific about what it is you want to do and the lifestyle you want to live. Take an inventory of where you are and what is really important to you — now, not based on what you wanted (or never got) in your 20s or 30s.
  • Figure out your priorities around what it is you want. Then put a plan together for how you’re going to go from where you are now to where you want to be.
  • Reinvent your career before you are forced to do so. Many people in their 50s have been downsized or given early-retirement buyouts. Afterwards, they felt lost, finding it difficult to see that there could be more down the road. Don’t let that happen to you!

And here’s some great news: In a survey taken by people in the 55-65-year age range, 80% of respondents who were forced to reinvent their careers deemed those reinventions successful. So if you’re a Boomer who’s concerned that you don’t have the chops to do it. Or if you’re too tired, or you don’t know what you would do, or it’s an ageist society so why bother – the truth is that you are 80% likely to be successful and happy about the decision you made.

What do you think of retirement or reinvention now? Are you ready to stop working? Join the conversation with the Little White Lie Movement community! Here’s how:

1) Answer the question or comment below.

2) Take my survey on where you see the question: “What is your biggest concern about aging?”

3) Share your thoughts on Facebook and use the hashtag #LittleWhiteLie.

Thanks for joining the Little White Lie Movement!

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Caren Glasser

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We define a little white lie as something you don’t talk about. A little white lie can be about a hidden part of your identity, or a family secret plus denial. The truth can be hard to face especially when you don’t know what to do with it. What is your “little white lie” and what motivates you to confront it?

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