The so-called modern view of retirement is pretty straightforward. You start your work life with a series of jobs in your late teens and early twenties. Eventually you settle into your “life’s work” and follow that journey for four decades or so, saving money along the way. Sometime in your late sixties, certainly by age 70, you hang it up, retire, and spend the next ten to thirty years on an extended vacation. Supposedly that’s the idealized path toward which most Americans aspire.
Most Bored Boomers Fail to Plan
But a recent article from the website NextAvenue (one of a growing number of similar articles we’ve read recently) strongly suggests that, when it comes to retirement, our “ladder of success” is leaning against the wrong wall. Written by well-known blogger Gary Foster (his blog is called Making Aging Work), this article should be a wake-up call to the 70 percent of people (Foster’s estimate) who enter their so-called golden years “with absolutely no non-financial retirement plan” – in other words, those who think “financial planning” and “retirement planning” are the same thing. As the NextAvenue article suggests, anyone retiring without preparing for the psychological and emotional changes ahead is in danger of becoming a bored boomer, losing their identity, their sense of self-worth, and even their physical health.
In the article, Foster reports that today’s 78 million boomers are turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 per day. As they do, “boomers everywhere are beginning to discover that retirement, as we’ve known it for decades, needs redefining.” He quotes a 2016 Federal Reserve study revealing that one-third of retirees “eventually reconsider retirement and return to work on either a full or part-time basis,” and he also cites a surprising statistic from a 2017 Rand Corporation report: almost 40 percent of working people 65 or older are one-time retirees who decided to return to the workplace. This trend, writes Foster in NextAvenue, shows the pitfalls of failing to give thought to the “non-financial components of retirement life.” Many retirees discover too late that “those ‘soft side’ elements play a much larger role in retirement than the ‘hard-side’ financial elements where the major planning effort is typically focused leading up to retirement.” We concur one hundred percent.
Bored Boomers Experience Loss of Identity and Purpose
“New retirees typically experience a one- to five-year retirement honeymoon period,” says Foster. During this initial post-employment period, even in the midst of well-earned rest and recreation, some of the major challenges start to emerge – mental, social, physical and spiritual – “that were never discussed or planned for in the offices of their financial planner.” These often include a feeling of lost identity and a sense of boredom due to a lack of challenges in retirement. Social engagement often starts to diminish. Spouses may find that they aren’t on the same page when it comes to lifestyle and spending choices. All of this, says the NextAvenue article, can trigger “depression and physical deterioration because of reduced activity and social interaction and lack of a sense of purpose.” As Foster writes, “Much of early, prime-time retirement is wasted as a result of this lack of non-financial planning.”
Bored Boomers Need Self-Examination – and a LifePlan
So in Gary Foster’s mind, what’s the solution? In the NextAvenue article he lists three ways to help avoid becoming a “bored boomer” in retirement.
- “Unmuzzle Your Essential Self” – Foster suggests trying to go back to the things you were good at and drawn to before work life forced you into “cubicle mode.” He says this process of self-examination is “the perfect mental launching pad for resurrecting what really lit you up before social expectations locked you down.” Then look for ways to leverage these skills and passions “back into the marketplace where they will continue to do good.”
- “Reintegrate Yourself” – Foster prefers the word “reintegrate” instead of “reinvent,” but the concept is similar. The idea, in the words of a Harvard Business Review article by aging expert Marc Freedman, is to “weave together accumulated knowledge with creativity” in order to “[craft] a new idea” about how your later life might look. A growing number of boomers, Foster says, are discovering in this reintegration process “a path to an energizing, inspirational second career in which income, new meaning and contribution and service intersect.”
- “Start a Lifestyle Business” – The third step, says Foster, is to combine the first two steps and create what he calls a lifestyle business – one that generates a desired level of income, provides time freedom so you work when and as much as you want, and is not location-dependent. (He lists some examples which we won’t detail here, but several are internet-based and may require additional training.)
Regardless of the specifics, we like the thrust of Foster’s NextAvenue article. Far too many people approaching retirement give little or no thought to anything beyond financial planning, and so enter retirement woefully unprepared – a fact which has motivated Rajiv Nagaich from AgingOptions for nearly two decades to offer a new approach to retirement planning which we call LifePlanning. A LifePlan is a comprehensive blueprint to help you literally design and create the kind of retirement you’ve dreamed of, one where finances blend seamlessly with legal protection, medical coverage, housing options and family communication. A LifePlan is personalized and individualized to suit your particular needs, desires and values. There’s nothing else in the arena of retirement planning like a LifePlan.
It’s easy to find out more and get your questions answered: accept Rajiv’s invitation to join him soon at a LifePlanning Seminar. These free, information-packed events are held throughout the Puget Sound area. For a calendar of upcoming dates and locations, visit our Live Events page and register online for the seminar of your choice.
You don’t have to be a “bored boomer” in retirement. Instead, a LifePlan gives you the freedom and peace of mind to feel like a recharged, reenergized and reengaged retiree. Let Rajiv Nagaich show you how – and meanwhile, “Age on!”
(originally reported at www.nextavenue.org)