In generations past, retirement was a definable event in
someone's life - a milestone, fixed in time. There would be a
presentation at the office, a family celebration and some
joyfully-arranged tee times for the following week.
"Work" was a thing of the past.
While this scenario may still play out in some households, for
many baby boomers approaching the traditional "retirement
age" of 65, the idea of such a drastic cessation of such a
major part of their lives can be disconcerting, frightening, or
Fixing the age of 65 as the optimal age at which one should
retire happened a few generations ago. Life expectancy, and the
youthfulness with which people approach life, has changed
materially over the years. While those of us in our 50s reluctantly
admit to a few more aches and twinges after activity, many of us
are as fit and healthy as we were in our 30s. Mentally and
cognitively, we feel at the peak of our games. The experience we
have built over the three decades we have been working enables us
to contribute at a high level. For those of us who raised families,
the kids have become increasingly independent, which frees us up to
pursue professional and personal pursuits that we have not had the
time for previously. And in many cases, the financial foundations
that would allow a complete end to income-earning might not be
solid enough yet - that is, we may not be ready to retire
Despite all these factors, there are many reasons for transition
and change in one's 50s and 60s. Many boomers spend the
majority of their careers in one profession and begin to wonder
what other interesting things there are to do. While Ontario does
not have a mandatory retirement age, employees might begin to feel
out of place in an organization made up of people who are the same
age as their children, and even grandchildren. Businesses can also
bene1it from natural turnover, since it allows younger people to
develop and for new ideas and approaches to be applied to the
How should baby boomers approach this transitional period in
their lives in a way that makes this stage feel like a new
challenge filled with opportunity and stimulation?
Here are a few thoughts...
Remain current, especially as it relates to
technology. The pace of change in this area is astounding,
and it is easy to get left behind. My 82-year-old mother frequently
communicates with her children and grandchildren by text message.
She has a Facebook page and regularly uses search engines for
gathering information. Paying attention to this area will assist
you in most of the other areas suggested below.
knowledge in newways. If you have been a
corporate executive, consider whether you could apply your
technical expertise by teaching at a college or in a continuing
education program. If you have managed people successfully over
your career and found it satisfying, consider becoming certified as
a Coach. If you have built and managed a business, become a mentor
to younger entrepreneurs through organizations such as
Futurpreneur, which is a national, non-profit organization that
provides financing, mentoring and support tools to aspiring
business owners aged 18-39. Seek out board positions. Learn about
what it takes to be a good board member, and actively seek out
organizations that are interesting to you.
Develop, or further develop, a hobby. Consider
ways this hobby could be integrated with your professional
expertise, or whether the activity could become a business in its
Try new things. Pushing
yourself out of your comfort zone in one area often results in more
confidence doing so in other activities.
Stay healthy. Do all the things you know you
should do. Eat properly, exercise, and get enough sleep.
Inattention to these items in your 50s and 60s is problematic. In
other words, you don't bounce back like you used to.
Considering all of these items will make your next chapter as
full of promise and excitement as previous new beginnings. The
future is bright.
Susan Hodkinson is the Chief Operating Officer at Crowe
Soberman, where she has management responsibility for the
operations of the firm, including finance, information technology,
human resources, facilities and marketing.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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