Boomers are, true to form, changing the meaning of the word ‘retirement’. If you look it up in any dictionary, retirement is all about stopping work. But even if we can afford to, many of us have no intention of stopping work in the broadest sense of the word.

Think back to the days when our parents retired. In my memory, my parents were not nearly as active as I am at 65. In fact, my sister, who turned 70 in November, made a valid observation the other day, saying that our parents certainly weren’t running half marathons the way she is.

They were already slowing down their lives, even though my mother lived on until 92. My father handed over the running of the family farm to my brother and moved into the city at about 64 and that was the end of physical activity for him.

So why do we Boomers think that retirement should be different for us?

Longevity

We know that we stand a very good chance of living well into our 90s, perhaps even making the century. Research shows that Boomers have a 50% chance of living to 100, whereas our parents did not know that medical science could extend their lives.

I clearly remember how soon after I retired at 60, I realized that if I live to 95, I still have 35 years of ‘retirement’ while I only ‘worked’ for 38 years! I am certainly not ready for bridge afternoons and knitting for charity – yet!

We Are Still Active

I have an exercise routine at the gym, I hike in the weekends, and walk the dogs on a mountain track for 30–40 minutes each day of the week. My life has not slowed noticeably since I retired.

If anything, now that I have more time, I participate in more organized physical activity than when I was working. I joke, but it is true – I now fit work around my gym classes, rather than fitting my gym classes around work!

There Are So Many More Opportunities

The Fourth Industrial Revolution bringing opportunities to work online as well as exciting new ways to approach work has really opened the door for Boomers to continue working. No one asks your age when you offer to do a job online, so long as you have the skills.

The Internet is one area where ageism does not apply, providing you have made the decision to keep up with the very fast moving tide of technical development. But even if you are not tech-savvy, there are other new and exciting opportunities.

The Way We Work and Define Employment Is Changing

Working 9–5 as the company man, wasn’t there a song about that in our youth? It doesn’t really happen that way anymore; instead we are seeing many more opportunities for small projects, focussing on specific aspects of work.

An example would be baking birthday cakes for milestone birthdays – you no longer require a full-scale bakery for this, you can simply say, “I make cakes for 60th birthday celebrations.” This really suits those of us choosing to work part-time in retirement.

Opportunities to Mentor or Volunteer Our Time Are Plentiful

We don’t only work for income, however. These days, there are many opportunities for us to volunteer or mentor our services, especially in less privileged communities.

Most cases do not involve income, (in some you even pay your own board and lodging) instead you will be rewarded by the gratitude of those you help in addition to your own sense of contribution.

One only needs to spend some time online to explore the myriad of opportunities, at home or abroad, where you can offer your services – from building homes and schools to pet sitting, seasonal work on farms, or teaching English as a foreign language. Take your pick.

Why, when we are so spoiled for choice would we choose to sit around relaxing and playing golf all day?

I don’t negate that some may want to relax and contemplate life immediately after retiring, but the norm for Baby Boomers is fast becoming, over the long term, to find something to do that will add purpose, relevance and meaning to their lives – and what a bonus if it also comes with some income!

What are you planning to do in retirement? Will you keep working for income? Or do you want to volunteer your time to those who are in need? Please share with our community!

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