“None of us comes into this world with ‘use by’ dates stamped on our backs. As long as we enjoy using our competencies and truly love what we do, we should never quit the race. We may slow our pace or change the event we run in, but we should never stop participating.”
People who retired from places I worked over the years always seemed happy. We had parties for them. We met them for lunch once or twice. Then they disappeared. To me, as a younger adult, retirement signaled the end of career, relationships, and life.
But I’m a Boomer, and I expect to live my life differently. To make my point, I asked several notable Boomers for their thoughts on retirement. Notables are friends from high school; some talk in this post, others will join in on future posts. Getting started told a story: Art was on a golf trip; Rusty was in Las Vegas; Vicki was creating home décor projects before heading to work at the fabric shop; Mimi was looking for elk in the Rockies; Claudia was leaving for the gym.
So when do we, as Boomers, expect to retire? Here’s what the Insured Retirement Institute says:
– 20% before 65
– 32% 65-69
– 27% 70 or older
– 21% don’t know.
I think “changing the event” best describes Boomer retirement. Whenever. Whatever. We. Choose.
“I practiced speech pathology throughout my professional career. I’d intended to retire at 62, but continued to work. Situations change. And then, out of the blue, the equipment manager of the Baltimore Ravens heard through a mutual friend that I could sew. Long story short, I have been a seamstress for the Ravens for 3 years. I love this gig! I would never have believed a hobby I’d considered mundane could turn into such a fun job. If I have any worthwhile advice to pass along, it would be ‘don’t be afraid to make changes in your life.'” Kathy
Boomers in the midst of “changing the event” have little patience for stereotypes about aging, and are, instead, focusing on redefining their lives. A recent survey of adults aged 50 to 75 revealed an updated view of retirement as a time to begin a new chapter in life by becoming more active and involved, starting new activities and setting new goals.
“I loved working as a television News Director. I’d always wanted to work in the news business; I’d also planned to retire early, at about age 50. When that time came I continued to work until some disappointing changes in the business helped me realize it was time for me to make a change. Over the years, I had worked on several creative projects, such as decorating and renovating. When I retired I rehabbed houses with my son; I decorated homes and began to decorate for parties. Gradually I planned and decorated more weddings until my work evolved into a full service wedding decorating/rental/floral/bouquet business. This has been my busiest year; I’m booked almost every weekend. But as much as I love it I do debate retiring completely. I plan to cut back at some point so I can enjoy other aspects of my life, such as my home, my family, my friends, and travel. Although giving up the salary and security of my news career was a huge decision, the freedom, the time, the opportunity to live my life in my way has been worth it.” Barb
While some Boomers see challenges, others see opportunities that may give form to our “changing the event” intentions. Planning allows us the freedom to change course when we want or if we need to.
“I worked as a lineman, then a repair manager for AT&T. Eleven hour days prompted my wife, who also worked for AT&T, and I to begin to plan for early retirement. I retired when I turned 50. As I was still pretty young and needed something to do, I started our band, Crossfire. I figured we would play at some dive bars a few times a month to give us a little spending money. Crossfire became more and more well-known, and popular, with us now playing nearly 80 times a year. I’m still doing it but taking it a year at a time. I’ll probably reduce the number of gigs we play pretty soon…I’m getting older, you know…” Wayne
Retirement experts suggest many of us will miss the productive activities and interactions associated with the work we did when we do change course. We didn’t necessary leave a job or career we no longer enjoyed, instead, we often leave for balance. Balance in work and play. Balance in family and personal time. Balance in running about and sitting still. That need for balance is as tempting as the dangling carrot.
“I retired from social work and substitute teaching because I felt I needed more time to focus on our son, Andy, and his needs. I did prepare for the changes but probably not as much as I should have. Today I still advocate for children and adults who live with disabilities, and I’m looking for part-time work that would still allow me flexibility but give me a little more walkin’ around money.” Denise
Lots of soon-to-be “changers” make plans to retire on the beach or the golf course, while others plan to “change” with purpose. For them, beaches and golf are great for respite, but “changing” with purpose helps them make an easier transition, offers opportunities to give back, and, where necessary, may provide meaningful income. Whether we beach or do more, Boomers will make the most of our time, abilities, wisdom and passions. And, we’ll include lots of opportunities for fun.
“I took the leap after 33 years and am surprised at how much I haven’t missed working. My only struggle is with the ‘should.’ Should I volunteer with a charity? Should I find a part-time job? Should I structure my day? And my answer for now, after two years of retirement, is nah! Maybe that will change in the future. For now, I love my freedom. My only standing engagement is the gym three times a week. I lunch with friends, travel with family, work in my garden and on my old house, and get facials and pedicures. I occasionally take on a freelance editing job, but I don’t seek them out, and chafe a bit under the deadline pressure when I do. But I will admit, when I start the job, that old adrenaline kicks in, and I realize that I’ve still ‘got it.’ The difference is that it’s on my terms. Life is good.” Claudia
Are you ready? Even a quick skim through the resources below will give you a nudge for Whenever. Whatever. You. Choose.
Retirement. Boomers are “changing the event.”
Special thanks to these resources that served as references for me in the writing of this post, and will help you, the reader, as you navigate your future:
The New Retirementality, Planning your Life and Living Your Dreams at Any Age You Want, by Mitch Anthony. Wiley Publishing;
How to Love Your Retirement, The Guide to the Best of Your Life, edited by Barbara Waxman. Hundreds of Heads Publishing;
Boomer Expectations for Retirement 2017, Insured Retirement Institute, myirionline.org;
A brief history of retirement: It’s a modern idea, The Seattle Times, December 31, 2013.