A Certified Financial Planner friend of mine shared a story over breakfast recently. One of his long-standing clients â€“ letâ€™s call him Jack â€“ who had fully retired six months earlier called out of the blue with a plea for help. Having entered his retirement in great financial shape, his call went something like this: â€œJohn, youâ€™ve got to help me. Iâ€™ve got to go back to work doing something. Iâ€™m going crazy not having something important to do.â€
A â€œBored Boomer Retireeâ€
Jack appears to be another captive of an irrelevant retirement model â€“ a casualty of an off-the-cliff leap from labor-to-leisure, vocation-to-vacation. An emerging rebel against the archaic, politically-inspired artificial finish line called traditional retirement.
Seventy-eight million strong and hitting this artificial finish line of 65 at the rate of 10,000 per day, Boomers everywhere are beginning to discover that retirement, as weâ€™ve known it for decades, needs redefining.
A 2016 Federal Reserve Study revealed that a full 1/3 of retirees eventually reconsider retirement and return to work on either a full or part-time basis.
Another study published in 2017 by the Rand Corporation revealed that 39% of workers 65 or older who were currently employed had retired for a period but decided to return to the workplace for more of their â€œgolden years.
A share of this trend can be attributed to the fact that 2 of 3 retirees enter retirement having given little or no thought to the non-financial components of retirement life only to discover that those â€œsoft sideâ€ elements play a much larger role in retirement than the â€œhard-sideâ€ financial elements where the major planning effort is focused leading up to retirement.
Unfortunately, this discovery often comes later than it should. Much of early, prime time retirement is wasted as a result of this lack of non-financial planning. New retirees typically experience a 1-5 year â€retirement honeymoonâ€ period, during which the mental, social, physical and spiritual challenges emerge that were never discussed or planned for in the offices of their financial planner.
Issues such as:
- Overcoming a loss of identity.
- Divergent post-retirement interests between spouses.
- Boredom due to lack of challenge and social engagement.
- Depression and physical deterioration because of reduced activity and social interaction and lack of a sense of purpose.
NOTE: My 5/14/18 blog provides additional insight into the dark side elements of retirement.
How do you avoid becoming a â€œbored boomer?â€ A three-part series.
This article is the first of a three-article series on this topic, each with three suggestions for avoiding this plight. You donâ€™t have to be retired to consider these. In fact, considering them at the pre-retirement stage will bring even more benefit.
Suggestion #1: Unmuzzle your â€œessential selfâ€.
What was your 6-, 8-, or 10-year-old-self good at, passionate about, naturally drawn to and undeterred in pursuing before parents, peers and professors tamped it all down and out? There are clues to your essential self in all of that.
In her seminal book â€œFinding Your Own North Star, Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Liveâ€, Martha Beck reminds us that most are â€œ- â€“ responsible citizens who have muzzled their essential selves in order to do what they believe is the â€˜right thingâ€™â€.
For most of us that â€œright thingâ€ has been 30-40 years of â€œcubicle nationâ€ building someone elseâ€™s dream believing that a fuzzily-defined, nirvanic, rewarding escape waiting at the end will be worth it.
For some, the â€œright thingâ€ is in step with the â€œessential selfâ€ â€“ for most, not so much. Why else would we covet getting away from it and â€œgive upâ€ or â€œwithdrawâ€? Which, by the way, is the definition of â€œretire.â€
When the â€œright thingâ€ goes away or morphs into that â€œrewarding escapeâ€, we can find ourselves face-to-face with that uncomfortable question: â€œWho am I and why am I here?â€
There it is â€“ the perfect mental launching pad for resurrecting what really lit you up before social expectations locked you down.
Iâ€™m slower than most.
I chased the â€œright thingâ€ across four different industries for over three decades and traveled deep into my sixties before finally unmuzzling my essential self and honoring my bent toward writing and teaching/coaching.
A couple of retired friends of mine are integrating their essential selves, passions and their natural and acquired skills and leveraging them back into the marketplace where they will continue to do good.
For a recently retired hospital CEO in Missouri, it is choosing to broaden and deepen his passion for civic and community involvement through board-level positions to pay forward his executive administrative experience as well as satisfy a passion to serve. To satisfy another passion, he builds and refurbishes black-powder, muzzle-loader rifles.
For a retired nurse executive friend, itâ€™s taking her doctorate in nursing and decades of top-level nurse management experience back into the marketplace to help nurses cope with the pressures of todayâ€™s broken healthcare system and be more caring patient advocates. Sheâ€™s doing it through a childhood passion for writing and teaching, using the internet, social media and book publishing.
Suggestion #2: Reintegrate yourself
I was tempted to suggest reinvent instead of reintegrate. The idea of reinvention is omnipresent these days, especially in the self-help world and particularly when it comes to those of us in the second half of life. Retirement itself has become a deserving target of reinvention.
I was persuaded to reject reinvention in favor or reintegration after considering the position taken on this by Marc Freedman, CEO and President of Encore.org and one of the nationâ€™s leading experts on the longevity revolution. In a Harvard Business Review article â€œThe Dangerous Myth of Reinventionâ€ Freedman makes the point that reinvention is too daunting and not practical because it infers discarding accumulated life experience and starting over from scratch.
Freedman makes a very valid point in the article:
â€œIsnâ€™t there something to be said for racking up decades of know-how and lessons, from failures as well as triumphs? Shouldnâ€™t we aspire to build on that wisdom and understanding?
After years studying social innovators in the second half of life â€” individuals who have done their greatest work after 50 â€”Iâ€™m convinced the most powerful pattern that emerges from their stories can be described as reintegration, not reinvention. These successful late-blooming entrepreneurs weave together accumulated knowledge with creativity, while balancing continuity with change, in crafting a new idea thatâ€™s almost always deeply rooted in earlier chapters and activities.â€
Reintegration dovetails nicely with point #1 above. Combining accumulated skills and life experiences with a forgotten or long-suppressed passion wonâ€™t give boredom a foothold. And it lifts away the intimidating idea of a reinvention.
More and more Boomers are finding this to be a path to an energizing, inspirational second career in which income, new meaning and contribution and service intersect.
Suggestion #3: Start a lifestyle business
Can you imagine a greater boredom antidote than taking #1 and #2 above and putting them together into a lifestyle business?
What is a lifestyle business? Three components:
- A level of income that you desire in your life.
- Time freedom. Work when you want, as much as you want.
- Location independence.
But wait, Iâ€™ve busted my hump for 40 years to get away from business. Plus starting a business at any age is too risky.
Well, let me take some air out of this instinctive negative reaction.
In 2016, new entrepreneurs 55-64 swelled to over 25% of new businesses started according to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurship. Check out these two Kaufmann graphs and note how over 50% of business startups happened by Boomers
And according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, Self-Employment in the U.S., the self-employment rate among workers 65 and older (who donâ€™t incorporate) is the highest of any age group in America: 15.5 percent. In sharp contrast, itâ€™s 4.1 percent for ages 25 to 34.
Consider this: Boomers with experience have an entrepreneurial edge in todayâ€™s knowledge-based economy. And start-up costs and risk levels have been mitigated like never before by digital technology.
Still skeptical? Hereâ€™s a Youtube video by Miles Beckler, internet marketing and entrepreneurship guru (an apparent Gen Xâ€™er) with ten ideas for lifestyle businesses just to prime your thinking pump.
Iâ€™ll list them here in case you arenâ€™t into Youtube or just want the cliff notes. Go to his video for details.
- Information products
- Become an author
- Affiliate marketing
- Print on demand (t-shirts, fine art, coffee mugs, a virtual store with no inventory, photography/online gallery, etc.). Pairs well with F-B marketing
- Selling services â€“ WordPress training, hosting, web design, graphics services, copywriting, etc.
- Drop shipping â€“ selling other peopleâ€™s products without owning inventory
- FBA â€“ fulfillment by Amazon. You find products send them to Amazon and they do the fulfillment.
- Coaching and consulting
- Selling advertising
- SAAS (software as a service )
This list barely scratches the surface of the types of businesses being started by enterprising â€“ and formerly bored â€“ boomers.
Stay tuned. Next week, weâ€™ll jump into three more tactics to save ourselves from Boomer Boredom.
How have you avoided Boomer Boredom? Would love to hear about whatâ€™s kept you out of that abyss. Scroll down and leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donâ€™t forget the free e-book â€œLaunching Your Full-life Potentialâ€ available when you subscribe to this weekly newsletter at www.makeagingwork.com.
About the Author:
Gary Allen Foster is an executive recruiter, retirement and career transition coach, writer, and speaker. He is an over-70 portfolio-career guy and audacious ager dedicated to helping folks in the over-50 crowd adopt a new perspective on how to live longer, live better and with more purpose in the second half. He coaches, speaks and writes publicly on the issues of mid-life career transitions, planning for purposeful retirement and achieving better health and greater longevity.
Find his thought-provoking articles and get a copy of his free ebook entitled â€œRealize Your Full-life Potential: Five Easy Steps to Living Longer, Healthier, and With More Purposeâ€ at www.makeagingwork.com.
Gary Allen Foster
Executive Recruiter/Retirement and Career Coach
Highlands Ranch, CO 80129