Once upon a time, not long and far ago, retirement was the end of work for most people. Walter made this pattern. When Walter retired from his demanding job at a North Carolina carbon plant, a job where he had been on call day and night as the mechanical magician who could fix anything that broke, his life changed from throttle to throttle. dead. Now what would he do? Within a few weeks of his last day at the plant, he had caught up with all the little home repairs and repairs, and he didn’t know what to do with himself for the rest of his life. Fortunately, his brother answered this question about his life by showing up at the door one day and saying “Let’s go fishing.” And that’s how Walter dived into fishing as his next full-time quest, filling his own freezer to brim with fresh fish, and then stockpiling everyone else’s freezers he knew.
According to the old paradigm of retirement, work ended around age 65 for most people, and from then on they were expected to retire from the world of work and “enjoy” a life of leisure. They came to be defined primarily in the past tense and relegated to a life of reduced expectations in terms of social, professional, and vocational contribution — what they Dyed been and what they Dyed done … not what they were to be and do next.
This old paradigm of retirement has changed dramatically. As the massive generation of 77 million Baby Boomers cross the age division in what would once have been their retirement years, they are redefining what it means to retire. According to William Frey, demographer and visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, “[Boomers] they will want to stay engaged in their work and be physically social. “Ken Dychtwald, author of Go from success to importance in work and life, agrees, adding that “we will see that adult education, career change and personal reinvention will become a standard part of later years.”
There are many ways the “face” of retirement has been transformed. Among the top five are these:
- Dramatically increased life expectancy.
Retired boomers have 20 or 30 or more years to live (from the National Center for Health Statistics). That is too much for a vacation.
- Savings for retirement impacted by the economy.
This, coupled with employers’ lower long-term commitment to their employees, prompts many boomers to plan to keep working and earning. Four in five (a total of more than 60 million people) expect to work at least part-time after retirement, and 40% (more than 30 million) declare “I will work until I drop” (from a recent survey Boomers by Merrill Lynch).
- An urge to stay connected and creative, engaged and relevant, active and challenged.
Many boomers plan to continue learning and studying and seeking participation and opportunities to contribute well beyond the traditional era in which past generations were expected to retire and “step aside.” Otherwise, they intend to retain their roles as players, not just spectators. Beyond any financial consideration, two-thirds (67%) of Boomers report that they plan to work after retirement to stay mentally active, and 57% to stay physically active (according to the Merrill Lynch study).
- The determination to live in stimulating places.
If they plan to move after retirement, Boomers are likely to consider moving to a major city, or even another country, such as contemplating a move to a retirement community where all of their needs are met. More than 90% plan to continue living in their own homes (according to the MetLife Mature Marketing Institute study).
- Work and participation options possible thanks to the Internet.
Retired boomers have opportunities to stay engaged that would have been unheard of and unattainable for generations past when they retired, thanks to the connectivity, opportunity, and globalization of the internet. Now they can work, create, invent and interact in an environment “anytime, anywhere, at any person, at any rate” where white hair is not seen, and physical strength and endurance are not requirements for them to be able. perform an active activity. and significant contribution.
All of these changes are positive, perhaps even those that are driven by financial need. And even within these pervasive changes, this “new” face of retirement, there is an additional layer of critically essential individual change. The notion of doing nothing for the rest of our lives may not appeal to us and, in some cases, not even possible. But what we hope to do next, what will give our lives purpose and meaning for the next two or three decades, will likely require us to “change gears” by working through a process of redirection, re-exploration and renewal that culminates in the future. that commits us fully and towards which we can and will give ourselves with vitality, enthusiasm and joy.
To put an individual face on the more pervasive “new” face of retirement, Ruth is an embodiment of these changes and shifts. She writes: “At 81 years old I am busy writing my memoirs, painting pictures and now I am moving to help take care of my great granddaughter. I am busy, having a great time. I also continue to work (as a therapist) and write articles and do many things that I can’t remember right now … I’m looking for an editor. Do you have any ideas on that topic? “
In short … The “old” face of retirement was the one that looked back. The “new” face of retirement looks to the future: a next phase of life and work that may well be the best personal and professional work yet.