Getting Ready to Reinvent - Not Retire

Boomers will want to redefine retirement just as they have redefined work.

In the workplace today, members of the baby boomer generation dominate the senior ranks, both as employees and business owners.  Given that members of this generation will begin to leave the world of full time work in significant numbers by 2020, it makes sense that they will be making plans, now, to transition out of their roles or exit their business.  But, many of them will not be making plans simply because they can’t imagine life outside of their work. 

Wanting to stay active in something you’ve created or spent the better part of your life doing is understandable.  But that means having in place an up-to-date strategy for that inevitable day. It’s about reinvention, planning for that significant change in lifestyle.  It’s about reinventing and planning for the next stage of your life, one that can be just as exciting and invigorating as your current role.  And it doesn’t mean having to retire.

As boomers dominated the workplace and its’ rules, roles and expectations, so will they dominate the rules, roles and expectations of the next stage of their life.  Retiring from the full time workplace, whether as an employee or an owner, means changing the way retirement is viewed and experienced.
•    Research has shown that the key problem encountered by those who retire is ‘boredom’. 
•    When they retire, they will spend time and money.
•    Retirement is a career change – it is a career earned from, and following, work.
•    It is no longer considered as a time of withdrawal from life.
•    It is a time when work and leisure merge into one.
And it’s not just about financial planning or having enough money, it’s about building a new role, viewing this next stage as a career change.  As reported in The McKinsey Quarterly article, ‘Serving Aging Baby Boomers’, “Seventy-eight percent believe that they can control their own destiny and survive anything life throws at them. Already, 40 percent are ready to “change my life as I age.” Yet the boomers’ flexibility will be tested as they strive to redefine retirement, protect their health and wealth, achieve their aspirations on a budget, and create a sense of community.”

And because it is now viewed as a time of engagement and activity as opposed to a time of total leisure and withdrawal from participating in the work community, boomers want choice, control and continuity in the next stage of their life.

Choice – having access to multiple options in terms of where to live, what to do and whether or how much to work.  How many of us know boomers who have started another career, purchased a business, hung out a consulting shingle, or taken a part time role in a completely different industry since leaving their full time position?  Boomers believe it is their right to have options available to them as they enter, and endure, the so-called ‘retirement years’.

Control – being able to decide, with family and friends, when or if retirement should occur.  In some ways, boomers view retirement as an end of life role and they have no desire to participate in this role.  They will redefine their retirement as they have redefined the world of work.  Leisure may be part of the next stage of their life, but if it is, it will be because they have decided it, not because they consider themselves no longer contributors to the working world.

Continuity – preserving those positive aspects of life – intellectual stimulation, human contact, and perhaps, some form of compensation – even if the type and place of compensation changes.  Boomers are considered to be the ultimate networkers, the ones who value face-to-face interactions and evaluate their success based on the relationships they have developed with other successful boomers.  They see themselves as the teachers, tutors, and professional managers, the ones who have defined the workplace and created an environment of productivity and success for the next generation.  They want to continue with this lifestyle so they need to find a way to replace what they experienced and valued in the full time working stage of their life.

To begin the process of reinvention planning, boomers should be asking themselves the following questions.
1.    What motivates me to reinvent and prepare myself for the next stage of my life?
2.    What worries me about transitioning out of my current business role and changing my lifestyle?
3.    How will these transition decisions affect other family members?  My employees?  My customers?

Answering these questions carefully and with considered thought, along with input from family and friends, will provide them with the information and feedback they need to engage themselves in the next stage of their life.

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Comment by Brian Weatherdon CFP CLU CPCA | 2013-10-23

Hi Donna, very well written indeed. And everyone's experience is distinct. Some fear leaving the business because it's what they know best and remain comfortable coming in to work every day. Others may be longing for the freedom to become independent of business and its demands & pressures. Your questions, Donna, are an excellent way for people to open this discussion -- personally as well as with trusted family and advisors. I hope readers make a point to "share" this blog with others who will value the insights you provide. Warm wishes....
BW

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