The New Retirement: A ‘Messy Proposition’?

In continuing our blog post series in recognition of National Employ Older Workers Week [Sept. 19-25], Christine Dugas of USA TODAY recently focused on the challenges of retirees reentering the workforce. As we live longer, stay healthier longer, we’ll need to work longer (out of both financial necessity and for the social engagement and intellectual stimulation), redefining the lifestyle balance between work and personal pursuits. And for some of us the disillusionment (and a bit of jealousy) that our parent’s leisure world will not be our own.

“The new retirement reality may be a messy proposition,” says Alicia Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. Right now the job market is still fairly scant in its offerings, and many older workers are saying they are being overlooked as potential job candidates (in part presumably because it is perceived they will soon want to fully disengage from paid work , or their adaptability (particularly technical skills) is being called into question). Also another prospect that many Boomers’ parents didn’t have to contend with: the much younger boss. And we love to hear about Boomers who have found wonderful roles in non profits that fulfill their passions. But, what about Boomers who must work until they can’t. Will Boomers landing new jobs now have to settle for ones that are far less fulfilling than desired?

It may be the optimism of my generation but I believe we’ll be the ones to have to lay those tracks into restructured work and life schedules for balance beyond midlife. We will have to be the force to carve out those places for ourselves, because what we cobble together – whether it be freelance work for income, a drastic career change as part of a ‘reinvention’, launching a new business, a sabbatical before returning to our jobs or job sharing – there is no template solution. Our personal goals, values and needs just vary too widely. Will it be messy? Yes! I prefer to think of it as organized chaos that will work for a generation that spans twenty years and nearly as many lifestages.

To read Christine Dugas’ article Boomers Wanting to Work Past Retirement Age Find Limited Options, click here

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