Take a moment and think about the images that come up for you when you think of the word retirement. Perhaps, you visualized a relaxed lifestyle, vacationing, or the opportunity to enjoy stillness after having worked long, hard years. While this may be the reality for some retirees, more people are following a new trend of working into their later years.
This movement has been found to be true especially for the Baby Boomer generation. This group of people, born between 1946 and 1964, are redefining retirement. Their ambition of pursuing a second or third career is not so much out of financial necessity, but a chance to finally pursue their passion(s).
Baby Boomers are showing the world what it is like to rediscover oneself and change one’s identity within the workforce. What many may see as the end of one’s working journey, this group of individuals is seeing as the beginning of a new journey.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), workers ages 55 and older were employed in a variety of occupations in 2016 not limited to management, sales, construction, and maintenance. Other occupations these individuals held included bus drivers, real estate brokers, tax preparers, travel agents, and museum technicians. Additionally, the BLS data also show that workers in older age groups have higher rates of self-employment than younger generations.
This American-born cohort, whose ages range between 55 and 71, are using their personal and professional wisdom to engage in new career adventures. At this stage of development, Boomers have more of a solid sense of self and are more eager to pursue goals and passions that they have not pursued earlier in their lives.
Other factors that are keeping this generation in the work force include: longer life expectancy, having an education that keep older Americans marketable in the workforce, wanting to stay active, and the need for money to keep up with the expenses of rising health care costs and a retired lifestyle.
So, if you are a Boomer and are 15 or 5 years from retirement, begin now keeping a journal of the different ideas or visions that come to mind. Or, perhaps you are already journaling about what you want to pursue upon retirement. Good, keep adding to your list, including different hobbies that you enjoy right now. Many-a-hobby has morphed into business interests. If you volunteer on a regular basis, this activity could be an interest that you may want to pursue as your second or third career one day. Finally, take note of the feelings that these ideas bring up for you. Do you feel joy, excitement, or happiness? Notice and highlight what ideas/visions/passions come up throughout your journal—you never know what will lead to the defining moment in your life. Remember, every end is also a new beginning to another chapter of your story.
Frederic Pryor, "Occupational choices of the elderly," Monthly Labor Review, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, February 2017.