Have you ever considered buying a brothel in an outback mining town at 55 years old? Would you like to still be working at 102? How about becoming a barrister when you have just been sacked as the judge on a top rating television talent show? Or becoming an entrepreneur in your 60s?
These remarkable stories, and many others, were shared on a recent Australian television show. Insight host Jenny Brockie interviewed people who, for many different reasons, are still working at a much older age than normal. She also sensitively dealt with the issue of older people finding it very difficult to find work. You can view this great program by clicking on the image above.
With the trend of people living longer many people worldwide are questioning the paradigm of retiring at 65 and just living off their investments, doing no more income producing work for the rest of their lives.
The concept of a ‘traditional’ retirement is being challenged by many.
This idea is not new. It has always been common for successful business people to transition from full time work to becoming a director of a company with part-time involvement. Retired professionals often become consultants within their industry and continue to work on a project basis, with blocks of full-time work alternating with blocks of full-time traditional retirement. Writing a book has long been the retirement project of people who felt they still had a contribution to make but wanted to do it in their own time, combining the lifestyle they desired with the challenge of creating a great book.
People seek purpose, challenge and meaning in their lives, at all stages of their lives. Why should this change when they hit the magical age of 60 or 65?
For many people this purpose, challenge and meaning comes from the traditional retirement life that they create; perhaps some form of community service, genealogy, pursuing a long-held interest, mastering a physical or art/craft activity or becoming actively involved in the lives of their grandchildren.
For others, this is a time of life when they decide to do the things that they couldn’t do before. How often have you heard someone say “I’ve got a great business idea but I can’t do it now” or “I’d love to work from home”. There is a spark of entrepreneur lurking in the most surprising people, and it is often when people get older that they embrace this aspect of their personality and are in the position to build a business.
Outliving your retirement nest egg is a fear of many people as they approach retirement age. The reality is that living is expensive and that a large proportion of people go into retirement worried that they will not be able to afford the lifestyle that they have dreamed they would be able to live in retirement.
There is no point in worrying about it but there is a lot of point in doing something about it!
Technology has given us the opportunity to run a business from anywhere, with no borders, no need for staff, and no glass ceiling. There are many people who are earning very good incomes (sometimes extraordinary incomes) working online, all around the world. Certainly there is learning involved, but that is part of the fun and the challenge. Just like any business venture there are no guarantees, and it is essential that you trust the right people as there are many sharks online.
Most long term relationships have their share of communication black spots. You learn to navigate around them, sharing day-to-day life comfortably but avoiding the issues that you suspect are likely to cause conflict or discomfort.
Then suddenly the concept of retirement looms. Someone asks you outright “Are you planning to retire soon?” or worse still “So what are your retirement plans?” Mild panic! What to respond? You mutter something generic then go away and find your mind is running riot with thoughts of how you are going to spend the next phase of your life. Do we have enough money? Will we travel? Where will we live? What do we want out of life? And perhaps the biggest (often unspoken) question of all….How can each of us make sure we are choosing a life that will make us content?
Whilst it might be easier to live within your comfort zone, not bringing up these issues for discussion, the reality is that you need to come to some agreement on them. The sooner you know the direction you are going the sooner you will be able to start taking steps to get to where you want to be.
You’ve probably spent your life thinking that by the time you reach “a certain age” you’ll have it all together.
But sometimes the path you want to follow just gets more confusing…. Where you thought there’d be a pathway in front of you there is just crazy paving!
Life is too short to keep living a life that isn’t right for you anymore. Maybe you know you need to make a change but life circumstances make it difficult to do anything right now. But you can use this time to plan your next move so when the time is right you can start living life the way you want to.
It’s easy to think that right now older people who want to work are disadvantaged. The government says we should expect to work until we are 70, but most people who have tried to find work after they turned 50 would agree that it is not easy.
Yet we live in a time when it is common to reinvent yourself in a new career, and when anyone with the right niche and strategies can build an online business.
But knowing what is the right thing for YOU to do is your burning question. It’s all good to know that it’s possible…but is it possible for YOU?
David and I have reinvented ourselves a few times over our working life. He moved from construction to civil construction over the course of his employment, with a gap in the middle as a property developer. I have transitioned from teacher to school resource centre manager to career counsellor. Along the way we both developed an interest in having a business that would bring in an income in our retirement, while retaining a great retirement lifestyle.
We are now working online assisting people reinvent themselves from their previous profession to business owners, creating lifestyle businesses.
When I mention that we are both working online, perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggeration! I’m currently working at the business while David is sailing around the Whitsunday Islands of the Great Barrier Reef, with plans to be back home by mid November. Is he working while he is away? Not one bit! I think he has a business book to read with him, but that’s really just for interest. I’m joining him on the boat soon for a week or two. Will I be working? Well yes, a little, but I don’t think of writing blog posts as “work”, more “self-expression” that I’d be doing anyway.
Why am I telling you this? Because it is important to know that you also can have a hybrid retirement lifestyle…a bit of work, a lot of lifestyle. It’s just a matter of knowing how you want to live your life, then finding the reliable system that will enable you to do this.
As you approach retirement is very important that you have your finances structured appropriately for your needs. If you choose a good Financial Planner they will manage that very well. They have the knowledge and expertise to suggest investment strategies as well as safe havens for your money in turbulent times. They provide an essential service for those of us starting to plan towards our retirement years.
Problem is, most of them presume that you know what you want to do with those retirement years. Faced with the question of “What are your plans?” few of us are going to admit that we don’t actually have any definite plans yet so we fall back on the default settings – the things we always thought we might do.
The trouble with that default position is that you have changed over the years, as have your interests and your lifestyle needs. The beautiful holiday area you always loved to visit may have seemed an ideal retirement location some years ago, but does it still hold the same charms? The area where family and friends lived may have been where you desired to live, but people move, relationships change and the area may no longer attract you in the same way. Similarly your interests and activities will have evolved over the years, and the attraction of having good medical and shopping facilities close to home become more important as you get older.Retirement Lifestyle Planning
Your ideal retirement lifestyle needs to be carefully designed. If you are in a relationship, you and your partner both have a particular set of needs, wants, dreams, interests, passions, and it would be most unusual if you both needed exactly the same lifestyle to live out your dreams. To ensure that you both achieve the best lifestyle for you some planning is required, planning that requires structure and communication. To settle for anything less robs you of years of fulfilment. If you are on your own there is a whole other set of considerations, depending on whether you desire your living arrangements to provide ready-made companionship.
Making the wrong retirement lifestyle decisions can be expensive and very stressful. You want to get the lifestyle planning right first before you make any financial decisions, so that your planning informs all the other decisions that you make.Before you see your financial planner
Before you go to see a Financial Planner to discuss planning for your retirement, it is wise to have given lots of thought … and discussion if that is how you make your best decisions…. about what you want and need in your retirement lifestyle and what would make it a “dream retirement lifestyle” for you. If you don’t have the vision of this lifestyle it will be almost impossible to make it happen!
BoomersNextStep.com helps you with your retirement lifestyle planning. Through our blog posts we encourage people of the baby boomer generation to plan a fulfilling retirement lifestyle. We also encourage our readers to use their skills and experience to bring in extra income if that is something that interests them through business training and career strategies .
Barclays has appointed the founder of a skincare company, Liz Earle, to advise on the ways that banks can better support older entrepreneurs. In an interview with YourMoney.com she commented
The older generation adds so much value to the workplace in any context – bringing a wealth of experience and industry contacts to the table. I’m not surprised to see so many budding entrepreneurs of my generation, but it’s great to see them taking the plunge in later life, rather than feeling it’s too late.”
She offered ten tips for people starting a business later in life which I have adapted and shared with you here.
My husband David retired after a long and satisfying career this year. Everyone – family, friends and work colleagues – knew what his plan was.
On his last day at work he even wore the t-shirt that bore the message “I have a retirement plan. I plan on sailing”, with the same message on his retirement cake.
He has always been a keen sailor since building a dingy with his father during his school holidays when he was about 14. He sailed mainly catamarans for years, then family life took over. As our children grew older he purchased an old trailer sailer which gave him a few more years of sailing. Again family life took over, with elderly parents needing to be visited regularly in Canada, and there were a number of years when sailing was still his passion but there was no boat and no time to enjoy one.
A few years ago our offspring left to pursue their own lives, elderly parents had departed this world and it was time to indulge the passion. He bought a Catalina 309, a lovely yacht in great condition, and had great joy sailing it around the large bay close to home. The sail cruising group, part of the yacht club that we joined, were fantastic people and shared his passion, so friendships were forged and many hours spent talking about …. yes, you guessed it …sailing. During that time he heard of everyone’s nautical adventures and gradually his plans expanded from local sailing in Moreton Bay to adventures further afield. And finally they are on their way.
And finally they are on their way….three newly retired men undertaking a true adventure. All have had extensive sailing experience. Initially they are sailing “in company” as part of a group from the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, so there will be many shared dinners, drinks and camaraderie along the way.
They have been gone nearly three days as I write this, have seen many whales and seem to have settled into their shared life on board the yacht. They sailed from Manly to Mooloolaba, moored for the night, then had a very early start to sail to the Wide Bay Bar entrance which can be extremely dangerous. Fortunately the seas were very quiet as they crossed the bar.
Now they moored behind beautiful Fraser Island, and undoubtedly the crews from all the boats will meet up on the beach around 4pm for ‘Sundowners’ before dinner.
I’ll keep you updated as they travel by adding photos and snippets of their adventures to this blog.
The three amigos had a fabulous sail north to Airlie Beach and saw many whales on their annual migration. One of them flew home while the other two spent about 10 more days enjoying the beautiful water, tropical weather, snorkelling on the reef, and tropical islands. They will all return soon to sail the boat home again, this time spending more time in different islands and inlets. It truly has been, and will continue to be, an example of living the retirement dream.
In this week’s episode of 60 Minutes Australia Charles Wooley considered the future of retirement from his perspective as a nearly 70 year old journalist.
During the episode he spoke with Peter Costello, who coined the phrase “Work Till You Drop” in 1993 when he was the Australian Treasurer, and he still stands by the view that this will be necessary for many Australians.
Because television has to entice people to view their programs with emotive statements the viewers had all their buttons pushed:
On social media the outcry has been loud. Resentment has boiled, with viewers complaining that working late in life is not feasible for those who have physically demanding jobs. Others have pointed out that they have worked all their lives and feel that they are entitled to stop working and start enjoying the relaxing retirement lifestyle they have always believed they would have.
Let’s examine this issue from the perspective of numbers. When the aged pension was introduced in Australia it was available at 65 years old, but the average life expectancy was then 55. At that time there were 5 taxpayers for every person eligible for the pension, but Australia now has just over 2 taxpayers for every person over pension age.
So let’s assume that it won’t take too long before the government can no longer afford to assist us in our retirement.
The average superannuation balance of Australians is $155,000, far from enough savings to fund a long and comfortable retired life. So let’s also recognise that there is a proportion of our community who have worked hard, saved and still will be unable to fund a decent lifestyle in their retirement.
Earning something to live on, or to protect dwindling savings, will become a big issue for many people.
The employment of older workers becomes important at this point. Many mature age workers find themselves unemployed and virtually unemployable at a time when they thought they’d still be earning and saving for their retirement. Their financial concerns are compounded by understandable resentment and negativity about the future.
Others who have always worked and retired voluntarily may experience difficulty finding work, facing the obstacle of being considered an older worker and perhaps being overlooked, despite their many skills, much experience and great work ethic.
The identity of many adults rests strongly on what they do for a living and when that job is no longer part of their lives they feel a great loss of identity, importance and a sense of who they are in the world.
Are Enjoyment, Purpose and Identity the key to living a successful life, whether in work or retirement?
Enjoyment: Two people who were interviewed, a 72 year old fitness instructor and a businessman/inventor who was well into his 90s, spoke of loving the work they were doing.
Purpose: John Williamson, the country singer, said “You have got to have something to get you out of bed in the morning and if you haven’t got that you’re buggered.”
Identity: “Relevance deprivation” was discussed in the 60 minutes video, with the period of adjustment to retirement sometimes causing serious psychological issues for some.
If everyone could find enjoyment, purpose and identity within their career they may not feel as resentful that they need to keep working longer than they anticipated. In fact they may choose to work well past the traditional retirement age.
The people who were happily working beyond retirement years were all doing things they loved doing and didn’t consider it work.
Every person responds differently to the life experience of work, and some are never fortunate enough to find work that truly suits them and that they can enjoy. Their attitude towards retirement is therefore going to be a longing for the pleasure that they imagine they will have in retirement.
Even those who have enjoyed their career usually get to the point where they sincerely look forward to finishing their working life so they can enjoy the freedom to pursue their interests and do the things they haven’t had time to do.
Another constant among the people who enjoyed their work was purpose, bringing pleasure, better health or physical assistance to others.
Not everyone finds purpose in their work, and they are often the people who are disconnected, dissatisfied and in need of career assistance. Perhaps that is something that we, as a society, should be looking at carefully so that people do feel that their work matters and makes a contribution.
Of course many retirees find purpose by being involved in the many voluntary organisations that contribute so much to our society. Many others find their purpose through involvement with their grandchildren, with over 900,000 children cared for by grandparents as a normal part of their week.
“What do you do?” is the first question many people ask when they first meet someone. “I’m retired” speaks of life now, not of the team player, the influencer, the valued colleague that you have enjoyed being. Developing and identifying a new identity can take some time and adjusting to a different way of living can be uncomfortable.
There is another issue that really wasn’t considered in this 60 minutes program. Challenge is the issue that most concerns me about my retirement. I get bored and discontent if I’m not challenged in some way, learning to do new things, being exposed to new ideas, meeting my own self-imposed goals.
Some people probably think I’m crazy to still be thinking about this at a time when I “should” be thinking about retiring. But that isn’t who I am. Perhaps this is about identity, but I like the idea of living life a bit differently and creating a business and retirement lifestyle that combines enjoyment, purpose, identity and challenge but also contributes to the financial needs of living. That’s just my personal solution to the issue.
What’s your retirement plan?
Have your plans been adapted to meet your financial needs, or your desire for enjoyment, purpose, identity and challenge? Do you plan on living a traditional retirement? Are you going to work till you drop? Or are you planning on living an untraditional retirement lifestyle, no longer working as you did in the past but merging some form of income producing work and the lifestyle you have chosen to live.
We’d love to hear your 2017 version of a retirement plan. Our retirement plan is summarised in this ebook and video
What if I had done things differently?
What if I could do things differently now?
What if I was twenty years younger?
Are those “what if…?” questions stopping you from living a rich and full lifestyle?
Are they stopping you from following dreams, learning new skills, seeing opportunities, doing different things?
Getting older doesn’t have to mean that you give up on your dreams and seeking new challenges.