Retiring or quitting an unattractive job to pursue work or hobbies more suited to one's personality. Also: pro-tirement.
Yet, for an increasing number of us, the conversation doesn't end there. More than 80% of 30-to 35-year-old professionals claim they are unhappy at work, worn down by a combination of stress, boredom and "aspiration deficit": the feeling that their job isn't giving back as much as they put into it. As working hours and the pressure to earn big bucks increase, the generation that once thought it could have it all has started to wonder whether it is worth sacrificing life to get it.
"People are starting to have midlife crises as early as 26," says Ann-Marie Woodall, author of Secrets of a High-heeled Healer. "Careers, especially those in areas such as the City and media, have become all about instant gratification. You can get success so quickly, more and more people are tasting it, and then realising that it's not making them happy."
For many, that realisation leaves a straight choice between continuing in a career that pays well but makes them miserable, and doing something less lucrative but more fulfilling a lifestyle option that has been dubbed "protirement". According to research, one in 15 under-35s is already "protired".
Anita Chaudhuri, "I want to change my life," The Sunday Times of London, September 21, 2003
John Murphy is advancing into elderhood not declining into retirement as the next phase of a life that so far has included work in computers and psychotherapy.
Murphy, 69, a Philadelphia native who has lived in California since 1961, now calls himself a sociotherapist: All the world's his client.
His latest book, ... "The Joy of Old," a 160-page volume that advocates "protirement" instead of retirement, says accepting the approach of death is the key to elderhood.
Gene Stowe, "He touts the joy of aging," South Bend Tribune, June 16, 1996
When I'm working with clients who are struggling with retirement issues, I recommend "protirement," which means to throw yourself ahead into a new blend of work and other activities. protirement is a positive plan for a new chapter in life, emphasizing possible options and personal renewal. It might include a new career, but more often it has to do with an unfinished life agenda that successful people have put off long enough. protirement is a great time for shifting gears into a new life chapter that enriches and fulfills.
Frederic M. Hudson, "The Adult Years: Mastering the Art of Self-Renewal," Jossey-Bass Inc., November 1991
The Baby Boomers have always put a positive spin on life stages, turning even the tribulations of adolescence and middle age into transformative and soul-enriching experiences. So, with the Boomers approaching retirement age, it seems likely that they'll jump all over anything that puts retirement in a more positive light, and protirement certainly does that. The word was invented by Frederic M. Hudson, a man whom the Los Angeles Times once described, intriguingly, as "the Don Quixote of midlife realignment." No, he's not a Boomer (he was 57 when he coined the term in 1991; see the first use, below), but that cohort may just decide to adopt him as one of their own.