One of my biggest fears for the baby boomer generation is that we have taken the concept of retirement too seriously. Many of us still believe in the notion that retirement should be a time for living off your savings, relaxing and “aging gracefully.”
Now, a new study by The Pew Charitable Trusts, says that the majority of baby boomers may finally be rethinking retirement. Most people surveyed said that they didn’t plan on retiring, in a traditional sense. Instead, they said that they wanted to continue working, either in their existing job or in a new career.
So, are baby boomers admitting defeat? Is the dream of retirement, in a traditional sense, dead? Well, yes and no. On the one hand, it is clear that baby boomers have done an inadequate job of saving for retirement. But, in fairness, we never really had a chance.
When the concept of Social Security first appeared in 1935, life expectancy was 65. Most baby boomers alive today can expect to live into their 80s or 90s. Was it realistic to think that we could save enough to last us for decades of active, healthy life?
So, if your idea of “retirement” is doing nothing for decades, then, yes, the concept of retirement is dead. But, who really wants to sit on their butt for 20-30 years watching TV? I don’t care if virtual reality is going to be amazing. The real world is already in 3D.
There’s nothing to say that retirement has to be a time of quiet reflection and inactivity. For starters, one of the best ways to keep your body and brain healthy is to live an active life. Is there a business that you have always wanted to start but couldn’t because you were in the midst of your career? There is plenty of evidence that older entrepreneurs hold all the cards. Did you put your true passions on the back-burner for most of your life? Maybe it’s time to turn up the heat.
If we are going to get the most from life in our later years, we need to abandon aging stereotypes and focus on our potential. You can be in the best shape of your life at 70, or you can be a couch potato. You can complain about the size of your Social Security check, or you can start a business or become a freelancer. You can turn into someone else’s stereotypical senior, or you can live your own dreams and show the world what you’re made of. These choices are yours to make.
It has become increasingly popular recently to say that baby boomers are stubbornly holding on to their jobs at the expense of younger people. According to this logic, the world would be a better place if us baby boomers would just hurry up and retire.
Want baby boomers to retire faster? Be careful what you wish for. You might just get it!
Does anyone seriously think that the world would be a better place if all of the baby boomers suddenly dropped out of the job market to pursue an outdated perception of retirement?
Despite the unfair stereotypes about Millennials, most young people that I know are kind, generous and responsible. They won’t abandon their parents if they fall on hard times. If you want to recipe for being unhealthy and unhappy in retirement, it’s this – stop interacting with the world, stop working, stop following your passions. Just stop.
The best possible scenario for Gen X-ers and Millennials would be for us boomers to continue to support ourselves, while staying active, for as long as possible.
Generation bashing is popular, but, ultimately unproductive. Pulling 10s of millions of highly trained people out of the economy, won’t make young people better off. It would create economic chaos.
Do people graduating from university today have it tough? Absolutely. But, the problem won’t be fixed by shrinking the number of people in the economy, which is exactly what would happen if we all retired.
Let’s stop the boomer bashing (and the Millennial bashing for that matter.) Let’s pull up our socks. Let’s start businesses together. Let’s accept the fact that the concept of traditional retirement is dead – and that’s a good thing.
Do you agree that we need to rethink the concept of retirement? Do you plan to continue working for many years to come? What do you think of the argument that baby boomers are being selfish by not giving up their jobs for younger people? Please join the discussion.