Retirement Rebels: Maggy Pigott
It’s that time again when I welcome a new ‘Retirement Rebel’ to my blog to answer 10 quick-fire questions. This month, I’m honoured to introduce Maggy Pigott, CBE.
Maggy had a 37-year career in the Civil Service dealing with the administration of justice. Since retirement Maggy has become Vice Chair of Open Age, an Independent Member of the Public Service Honours Committee, a Trustee and member of Sage Dance Company, a Vice Patron of Working Families and author of How to Age Joyfully: Eight Steps to a Happier, Fuller Life with a foreword by Dame Judi Dench. You can find Maggy on Twitter at @MaggyPigott and Age Joyfully at @AgeingBetter.
I’m really looking forward to sharing her answers with you. In the meantime, if you’re a rebel like Maggy, and you’d like to be part of this series yourself, email me at [email protected]. And don’t forget to check out Maggy’s book too.
Do you consider yourself retired – and if not, why not?
I gave up working in the UK Civil Service, 10 years ago at the age of 59. But I don’t consider myself retired. I’m still ‘working’, but just in a different way, including giving time to some wonderful charities and promoting ageing joyfully – both the concept and my book. And I’m trying hard (if rather unsuccessfully), to improve my dance skills, a recent passion. So I’m definitely not retired, at least in my eyes! You can retire from your job but the secret is never to retire from life.
How do your thoughts on retirement differ from most people – in other words, what makes you a retirement rebel?
I’m not sure what the majority view is, but I believe that if you love your work you should be able to continue for as long as possible. We all need a purpose in life and for many it’s their work. The comedian George Burns said ‘Retirement at 65 is ridiculous. When I was 65 I still had pimples.’ He worked until his death – aged 100!
I loved my career, and sadly had to retire early for health reasons. It was therefore a great surprise to find I’m happier now than ever before, relishing my extra freedom, time and new interests.
Do you have a typical day? What does it look like?
No, my life is usually extremely varied although, since the pandemic, the days have had a certain ‘Groundhog Day’ quality. But two things I like to include are a late and leisurely breakfast and dancing, whether with others, now via Zoom or home alone. Nietzsche wisely said “We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once’. My husband would add my spending (too much!) time on Twitter.
What’s been your proudest moment since you turned 50?
Going to Buckingham Palace, aged 60, to receive a CBE from HRH Prince Charles. It was an unforgettable day. Writing my first book in my late sixties and becoming a published author, is the runner up.
Do you have a favourite quote that inspires you?
How To Age Joyfully has over 150, so that’s a really difficult question! Can I have two? One is by Eleanor Roosevelt: ‘In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility’. And the second is ‘The more you praise and celebrate life, the more there is in life to celebrate’ from Oprah Winfrey.
What’s your favourite social media channel, and what was the last thing you posted on it?
Twitter, which I discovered a few years ago. I love it for connecting with others with similar interests, learning, having a laugh, and through Age Joyfully @AgeingBetter, helping (with my 7,500+ followers) to spread the reality of positive ageing and how to get older in good heart and health.
My last post was on tackling obesity, in light of the Prime Minister’s strategy, and cheekily suggesting he might like to buy my book for its 37 tips on eating healthily and losing weight!
If you could tell your 18-year-old self one thing, what would it be?
You’ll get through any bad times and life will just keep on getting better, especially if you heed Eleanor and Oprah’s advice. So don’t dread or fear getting older.
When did you last belly-laugh, and what was it about?
Watching the TV panel show Would I Lie to You?, which I find consistently funny.
Do you have any regrets?
Thankfully, no major regrets. I’ve been blessed with my family and friends and extremely lucky to have had an exciting career which enabled me to combine work with family and other interests. Perhaps a minor regret is the time I spent worrying about things most of which never happened.
What are your aspirations for retirement – how would you like to see the way the world thinks about life over 50 change?
Given our increasing longevity and the prospect of a ‘100 year life’, more needs to be done to support and facilitate longer working lives. Older people have much to contribute and ought to be able to work without the discrimination that sadly still exists.
Having job-shared for 23 years in seven jobs, I’m passionate about the benefits of flexible working, which helps those in later life as well as working families. I hope its availability will increase and I think that finally may happen as a result of new ways of working during the pandemic.
As to life over 50 more generally, I’d like the second half of life to be celebrated as being as diverse, valuable and rewarding as life under 50. Ageism should have no place in an equitable world and we should all be able to look forward to ageing well and living long. I certainly am!