Tony And Stephanie Colston – Retireista Movement
Written by Joff Alexander-Frye
Photos by Joff Alexander-Frye and supplied by Retireista
If Lyme Regis residents Tony and Stephanie Colston have anything to do with it, you will soon be seeing an addition to the Collins English Dictionary. Not only that, but the word that they hope to introduce embodies a positive movement which is empowering and dignifying men and women all over the world as they approach retirement age.
Former American Vice President, Hubert Humphrey, once said,
“The moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the less able.”
By that standard, modern Britain has some work to do and Tony and Steph are committed to doing their part to make a difference.
With their creation of the term ‘Retireista’ they are essentially attempting to re-brand and re-position the prospect of retirement as something that is to be explored, perfected, enjoyed and invested in (rather than the somewhat foreboding picture of retirement that is painted in mainstream media sometimes). I’ll come back to the concept of being a Retireista a little later, but let’s rewind and find out where Tony and Stephanie began their journeys.
They have had an incredibly interesting life, living in the South-East for much of it and running a high-end Conference and Events business. They moved from Reading to Lyme Regis ten years ago and, in their words, “accidentally bought a restaurant” – By the Bay on the seafront in Lyme. They ran that business for nine years before deciding it was time for a change. So, they sold the business and had an opportunity to take stock and decide what the next season of life held for them.
By this point, they were around their mid-fifties, and people started to ask Tony and Stephanie more often the slightly awkward question, “Are you going to retire sometime soon?”. Tony laughed,
“Why would you ask that? When you think about it, it’s actually quite an annoying question! When you look up the word ‘retire’ in the dictionary, it includes words like ‘cease, leaving, withdraw, stop and give up.’ None of those negative things appealed to us and they didn’t describe our picture of retirement one bit!”
As a result, over a couple of glasses of wine one day, Tony and Stephanie decided that they wanted to rebrand the term retirement. So, they came up with the term ‘Retireista’, trademarked it and then plotted the initial steps of how they might re-define the word ‘retire’ and the negative connotations often attached to it.
By coming up with this new term, they had landed on a word which they could now build a narrative and some plans around, to try and re-brand retirement completely. Their eventual aim is to have the word accepted into the English Dictionary, to sit along the often-bittersweet word of ‘retire’ with a wholly positive and aspirational alternative.
Not only did they embark on this mass-re-branding exercise, they also went about building a website to gain momentum and support from others. It also became a digital space to capture their values, mission and to start publishing content that would appeal to other Retireistas. With categories of content including House & Home, Health & Wellbeing, Finance, Family & Friends, Travel and Activity, you can see how, quickly, it could become a hub of interesting, informative and positive content.
On top of the website, several key people around Tony and Stephanie suggested the very same thing – for them to capture this new mindset and approach in a book. So, somewhat begrudgingly, Tony went about writing the book, The Retireista Project, which is now available to buy through their website.
The book aims to unpack and explore how retirement can be approached in a positive manner. Particularly aimed at men (to start off with, with a possible future edition aimed at women to come), the book aims to start preparing the reader for how they will structure their life once their conventional working life ends. Not from a ‘managing decline’ perspective as so much retirement literature nowadays is toned, but with a narrative that says, ‘the best years of your life are ahead of you, not behind you’.
In Tony’s words,
“The book catalogues my journey, recounting some of the most valuable lessons that I have learned along the way. I want to ‘kick the conventional view of retirement into touch’ and offer a fresh, new perspective that repositions it as the dream job which we all wish we’d made a play for years ago.”
On a personal note, I have always held older people in high regard, particularly my grandparents. There is a security, peace and steadfastness in many older people who I have had the pleasure to meet over the years, which counteracts the chaos, breathlessness and shifting sands of youth. One day, I plan to become just such an older man. To support others, champion the younger generations and actively enjoy my later years. There is something inherently similar in the approach and value system behind the Retireista project, which I found both attractive and encouraging.
The more people there are like Tony and Stephanie, promoting a positive and dignified narrative for getting older, the happier and more balanced our society will be. To refer back to the words of Hubert Humphrey, we face a moral test as a country, particularly amidst pressing economic difficulties and political storms. May we never allow the older generations to slip into the shadows of insignificance and boredom. Rather, may we give them the gift of our time, love and attention – affording them the dignity and respect which they so deserve.
And for us? May we embrace becoming more refined, well-rounded versions of ourselves and move into retirement with a fresh vigour and lease on life.
Retirement is dead. Long live the Retireista!