What does retirement mean to you?
A new era is being ushered in when it comes to retirement. And if you’re not sure how to define what retirement is, you’re in very good company. Boomers are experiencing a very different kind of retirement than their parents did. They are living longer. They are healthier. Boomers see many opportunities to create more purpose in this important transition.
- Boomers were raised in times of prosperity; not the great depression.
- Boomers accessed higher education in record numbers; a luxury for their parents.
- Boomers were the first generation to focus on dual careers. Their parents built communities.
- Boomers married later and had fewer children, compared to previous generations.
- Boomers pushed boundaries on social issues including gender equality and human rights.
- Boomers saw an explosion of technology and new access to the world opened up.
- Boomers were game changers then and still are today.
This new world had a profound impact that shaped this generation of new retirees, just like these three indisputable facts beg for a new definition of retirement.
- Boomers are living longer and healthier. With constant advancements in medicine, life expectancy continues to rise. Boomers can expect to live well into their 80’s or 90’s. And they can now look at retirement as having 3 distinct stages. The first stage is very active where old or new passions are ignited and pursued with gusto. The second stage remains semi-active where boomers continue to contribute to society in very meaningful ways. The final stage signals a time to slow down, but by no means signals the end of their contribution to society.
- Boomers are working longer. With limited financial resources, big dreams and a longer life span, boomers are rethinking their financial plans to support an active retirement lifestyle. Boomers also want to work as a way to stay active, connected and challenged. This likely means a combination of work and leisure for many. With a looming shortage of young workers to replace the bulge of retiring boomers, organizations will struggle to fill the void. Some are beginning to embrace this generation as a new source of highly valued and experienced talent.
- Boomers are redefining “retirement”. No matter what you call it – Second Act, Un-Retirement, Next Chapter, Autumn Years or any other name – the rule book is being re-written by a generation that is still as idealistic today as they were in the sixties; an idealism that is now tempered with a good dose of wisdom. Perhaps the Spanish word for retirement – Jubilación – is a more fitting word. It means a time of celebration and rejoicing.
Long bucket lists and unfinished business
Boomers have long bucket lists and unfinished business to tackle. It’s not a honey-do list that includes watching reruns of long ago shows, lawn bowling and bingo night. This new bucket list is more likely to be filled with ideas on how to re-imagine their life, new things to try, risks to take and new journeys to embark upon. It might also includes; volunteering in foreign countries; starting new careers and new businesses. Boomers have new dreams to chase and passions to achieve; new languages to learn; new places to experience; and new challenges to tackle. They want to be fully immersed in their grandchildren’s lives; at the same time as they feel a heartfelt need to pursue charitable causes around the globe.
Boomers want it all. So the most important question for them becomes, “What’s possible?” That’s why more boomers are working with coaches to figure out what is actually possible. It’s no secret that a solid financial plan is critical to support a comfortable retirement. But it’s not enough. A lifestyle plan is as critical to create the retirement lifestyle your most want and to explore what your days will look like. Otherwise, how will you know if your financial plan is the right one and if it will meet your unique needs? Don’t risk wasting the best years of your retirement on menial pursuits that will only lead to regret. This is the time to build the amazing legacy you want to leave for your loved ones and to do everything you can to get the most out of your retirement. Creating the lifestyle you want will help you squeeze every last drop of juice out of your retirement.
A time to re-frame, re-focus and re-discover
This time of life, more than any other, requires a re-framing of old beliefs, the willingness to challenge old assumptions and build even more resilience. Aging is all about change. Physical changes occur, unless we keep our bodies in good health, both physical and emotional. Intellectual changes occur, often through memory loss, unless we continue to learn and build new neural pathways. The need for social interaction becomes even more important as we age, when we realize the incredible gifts that family and friends give us every day we spend with them. Spiritual changes occur as we deepen our understanding of the values and beliefs that are important to us; and perhaps consider spirituality in broader terms than the framework of only one religious ideology.
Asking the right questions
The day is fast approaching when we will no longer ask: When are you retiring? Instead, we will ask: What‘s next for you? A multitude of new questions must be asked as you prepare for this important transition; questions about these areas of your life and many more:
- Health and leisure
- Work and finances
- Relationships and community
There are also uncomfortable “what if” conversations to be had with spouses and family members about:
- Wills and estate planning
- Long-term care and medical directives
- End of life care and funeral wishes
These aren’t easy conversations to have and they aren’t fun. But they can make decisions less stressful and reduce potential conflicts for your family. Working with a coach can make this difficult task easier for you and your loved ones.
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