Continuing to Work Through Your ‘Retirement’ Years

Baby Boomers. Our Second Act. The Third Age. Senior Citizens.

We so-called Baby Boomers (born from 1946-1965) make up over 70 million of the US population. Yet for the most part, society doesn’t really know what to call us.

Is it any surprise we are a little bewildered ourselves?

Historically, people have always approached their retirement years with anxiety and measured excitement, and both feelings are understandable. The financial safety net provided by Social Security plus supplemental investments for some has certainly allowed Americans to plan for a more relaxed and enjoyable later life, although what it will really be like as a lifestyle is an unknown until we experience it firsthand.

The models of retirement viewed from afar by Boomers, as lived by our parents and grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc followed a conventional pattern. Long term employment with a limited number of companies was followed by a celebration of ‘the end of work’, and then movement into a routine existence filled with travel, visiting family, volunteering, and relaxing into a less active life.

Today, however, retirement doesn’t look much like it did for our grandparents. In fact, Age and Retirement are being completely redefined.

What does this mean for us?
retired couple relaxing on porch

Retirement these days looks different for most of us. We may still get to enjoy the rocking chairs, but probably later than we planned.

A new paradigm is emerging whereby life after age 50 and our traditional employment years, requires as much thought, preparation, and planning as the previously linear model we were brought up to expect: education-followed-by-job-family-career, then a happy, secure ‘retirement.’

Current estimates of how long those of us in the Baby Boomer generation are likely to live suggest 87 years as the average for women, and 82 years for men, leaving 15-30 years to plan for, after our ‘retirement’.

But in today’s world there is no clear end to one stage of life and the beginning of the next.  We are living longer and staying healthier later, with more options opening up every day for us to explore and enjoy.

woman needs to continue working

Can you retire yet? Or do you need to continue working?

The financial question we must face now is how we will pay for our longer lives.

Many of us are confronting new issues like maintaining quality of life, vitality and health and the possible – if not necessary – reinvention of our lives as we move forward into what for many is unknown territory.

What role does WORK play in these longer lives we’re going to be living?

Perhaps our greatest challenge is in adapting our mindset to our new reality, this new world of retirement, where many of us need to continue working during what were supposed to be our ‘retirement years.’

What adaptations will you need to make as you adjust to the changing rhythms of your aging body? Changes that will allow you to adapt your work choice and schedule throughout your retirement years, maximizing your life experience and satisfaction?

The abrupt new choices presented by this paradigm shift raise new questions for us about the nature and place of work and “retirement” as we used to know them:

• With so many years ahead for many of us, is continued work a viable option for you? Do you want it to be?

• What are the average lifespans of the men and women in your family? Given your current health and lifestyle, is it likely you will live as long? Or perhaps longer?

Start a small business after retirement

Is starting a business of your own of interest to you? Home-based, online or brick and mortar?

• Do you NEED to continue working for financial reasons? Do you know whether you do or not? And if so, for how many more years?

• And if you do need to continue working, what form do you think your work will take? A full or part time job? A new, encore career? Or would you like to create a business of your own?

Please share in the comments below what your ‘Retirement’ is looking like.

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  1. I am working my retirement now. Crossed into my 8th decade recently and don’t see a ‘retirement’ date ahead yet. Many of the questions you raised are spot on appropriate to think about. I need to work for financial purposes, but I also want to work because I like making a continuing contribution. Traveling would be nice, but that would get boring after a while…… I still have too much to offer and sitting around trying to think of something to do is a waste of time…… I just want to ‘get on with it’ as long as I am blessed with good health.

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