Does the way we think about words like “retirement” and “bingo” change our behavior? Could aging stereotypes even have an impact on how many of us decide to start a business after 50?
According to a 1996 study by John Bargh, and published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, there is reason to believe that they do. As a result, it is more important than ever for us to redefine retirement and provide positive examples for each other of what we can accomplish in our 50s, 60s and beyond.
When I started Sixty and Me, I had a vision. I wanted to help women over 60 to live independent, healthy and happy lives. After spending most of my life in corporate communications, I was confident that I could find the words to inspire my audience. But, as I looked at what it would take to really get the business off the ground, I saw some big gaps.
People like simple explanations to difficult problems. We know that relationships are complicated but we like to believe that “love conquers all.” We understand that starting a business requires passion, discipline, value creation and luck, but, it’s so much more pleasant to believe that if you “do what you love the money will follow.”
The problem is that half-truths are often more destructive than lies. They wrap our desires in a warm blanket of believability and prevent us from making rational choices. Nowhere is this truer than in the myth of the successful hobby-business.
When I told my friends and family that I was quitting my marketing job at a well-respected global company to start Sixty and Me, I was greeted with confused looks. After all, at age 64, I was supposed to be “winding down” and preparing for retirement.
Like the thousands of older entrepreneurs that start a business in their 50s, 60s or beyond, I didn’t see it that way. With 20 to 30 years ahead of me, I wanted to fill my remaining years with new adventures and valuable work. Now, with Sixty and Me growing and changing lives, I’m glad I did. At the same time, my experience raises some important questions.
Since starting Sixty and Me, I have had the opportunity to meet and interact with 100’s of talented, passionate older people. Many members of the community have the skills and experience to supplement their income in retirement – either as freelancers or business owners. So, I often wonder, why is it that so few men and women of my generation set out to supplement their income as they approach, or enter, retirement?
The conclusion that I have come to is that most people allow their own mental blocks to prevent them from having the lifestyle that they want.
In recent years, it has become trendy for life coaches, self-improvement gurus and financial planners to tell us to “make money from what we love doing.” There’s only one problem. They never actually tell you how to do it! In addition, for most of our lives, we are so busy living that finding the time to build a side business around our passions is a distant dream. If you’re in your 50s or 60s, now may be the perfect time to give it a shot.
Women over 60 have a strong independent streak. When we were younger, we used the word “freedom” in a carefree way. It defined a lifestyle. We were free to wear bohemian clothes, free to travel cross country or to choose unconventional lifestyles.
As a young woman, I thought that the path to success in life was simple — invest in a great education, land a fabulous job in my chosen field and work obsessively to get ahead. Along the way, I hoped to find true love, raise a family, buy a house and travel the world. Climbing the corporate ladder, I measured my accomplishments by the new words in my job title. The elusive “glass ceiling” always shimmered in the distance, promising astounding rewards for my hard work. All I had to do was stay focused and do my job well.
Nancy Collamer is my guest on this latest episode the Sixty and Me Show. Nancy is a well-known career coach and author of a book called “Second Act Careers: 50 Ways to Profit from Your Passions in Semi-Retirement.” As a blogger for Next Avenue and Forbes, she writes about issues facing older women in “semi-retirement”.
Are you planning to make the transition from a full time career to retirement? In this latest episode of the Sixty and Me Show, I speak with Nancy Collamer, a dynamic career coach and blogger for Forbes and Next Avenue.