Will Boomers Ever Retire?
This is an unfinished conversation with myself
What happens when you no longer are interested in learning new things. Does a point come in life when the urge to challenge oneself to make more, do more, see more, or read more simply evaporate? I was preparing breakfast the other morning and this thought occurred to me. Would a time come when I awakened, had no agenda, nothing to prove to myself or another human being , was in good health and sound mind and be fully retired?
Would THAT be what they call retirement ? Because for me, retirement implies the full connotation of the word leisure. Most of the “retired” people I know, and I don’t know many, do not enjoy said leisure. So I am always at a loss when someone asks me if I am retired simply because I do not go to a 9-5 job. Today when I was asked this question, I replied that I am self-employed. The truth is I am not certain that I will never be fully retired in the sense of the old definition.
People I know have started to say out loud that they do not know when they will retire. According to a poll released Monday by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 82 percent of working Americans over 50 say it is at least somewhat likely they will work for pay in retirement. If you happened to have been lucky enough to have a funded 401K, then you know that even having a retirement fund does not ensure these funds will be available to you when you need them. Remember Enron. Remember 2008.
I was in the internet world before 2008 as a novice mostly lurking. I sensed the change because I had been actively working with smarter tech types before 1999 who were programmers learning to build website. As the writer I was a content creator except we did not call them that then. Everyone was using html contrary to today. Looking back I can see that the shift in retirement expectations had already begun to coincide with a growing trend of later-life work about the same time. So it is no surprise to me that the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research study suggests people 55 and up will make up one-fourth of the civilian labor force by 2020. So will boomers ever retire begins to look like a non-starter.
I began to see what was possible, by attending conferences and watching primarily males who were creating new identities and a language around internet marketing There were women but it was primarily men doing business with other men who’d left the advertising and copy world in the early 90s ahead of the trend. I knew I needed to learn how to ask different questions. But first, I needed to learn the language so that I could shape it to the real life I was living. So in 2010 I went into the blogosphere with a different intensity. I had realized the world had changed in my lifetime and the skills of people who were generalists and humanitarians like ME were now being valued. I was happy that people would no longer ask why I didn’t just do one thing.
I was encouraged by Seth Godin to ship, to not be afraid to fail, to get it out of my head and out the door. This is what he said Linchpins did and I wanted … and still want to be a good Linchpin. He did not speak of the answer to the question will boomers ever retire. Because if you have a certain kind of head, this is a great time for creativity and innovation to meet wisdom. So in spite of my floundering from time to time, I am not embarrassed by my failures. What I’ve learned, no one can take from me. I just wish I’d fully understood this at age 30 rather than waiting for someone to choose me.
So I most likely will be working, hopefully from anywhere I choose to be in the world, well into old age. Chase Bank runs a television ad that defines retirement as paying ourselves for doing what we love. This truly captures the reinvention theme.