Over the past year, and just this past week in The Wall Street Journal, discussions are rising about the demise of the 40-year career (ages 20-60) and the rise of the 60-year career (ages 20-80). With approximately ½ the five-year old kids today expected to live to be 100 years old, expected career length is rising faster than interest rates. But what does this mean for those of us who are on the plus side of 50 and have the work-optional phase of our life already in our sites?
While our age group may not be the target of these articles, there is a valuable message being sent to us. Complete full stop, letting your life get smaller and slow down retirement is no longer the promised land, and probably never was.
The word ‘retirement’ needs to be buried, or at least it’s conventional definition does. Retirement is too strongly associated with stepping out of a purposeful life and letting leisure and convenience take over. While we can all crave these lifestyle traits at times, research has repeated shown we need a compelling purpose or passion promoting us to continue to learn and problem solve to keep ourselves vital.
Now, no one is suggesting a full on 40+ hour/week schedule – that is not healthy for anyone. No one is even suggesting you keep the same career in retirement, unless it is your true passion. What is being suggested is to develop your mindset so when you think of your retirement, it is time to swap out a company’s purpose for you, and replace it with your own passion driven purpose.
But to find this can be a challenge on it’s own. Most of us have decades of career, family, friends and general life providing layer upon layer of sediment clouding the waters to know what we are truly passionate about. My ask? Don’t surrender to comfort and convenience. There will be exploration, experimentation and resets on your journey. Buck the cliche that most retirees put more thought into a vacation, than their purpose in retirement.
To help you in your passion search, I suggest setting up a passion/purpose radar. What this means is over a 2 or 3 week period, record things grabbing your attention, while they have your attention. Creating voice memos or one-notes on your phone, or carrying a small notepad around works well. After the 2 or 3 weeks, you will have created a powerful list of potential ideas to explore. It is important you record as the idea has your attention, as we all forget far more than we remember:)
You and I, we have been given a valuable gift. Our generation has more wealth, health and mobility than any previous generation. Your retirement is a winning lottery ticket. Make sure you fully cash yours in.