Every single day 10,000 people in the U.S. wake up to celebrate their 65th birthday. After blowing out cakes laden with more candles than they are likely able to blow out, these boomers are faced with the reality of what it means to be newly minted senior citizens. To move to Florida or not to move to Florida? To retire or not to retire?
Since the average retirement age is actually 62 these days, many 65 year-olds are already kicking back on their birthdays, letting their work-related memories fade into fade into a happily impaired state. But many haven’t had their retirement parties just yet.
Whether seniors continue to work past 65 because they need the money or because they just really like to work, the reality is that almost a third of Americans 65 to 69 remain employed, and a massive 79 percent of U.S. workers plan to supplement their retirement income by working for pay. So, look around your workplace. Eight out of every ten hamsters in the cubicles that surround you will continue to run on their wheels through their senior years, even if it’s on a part-time basis. If you’re one of those hamsters, what do you really want to be working at in your golden years?
We’re gung-ho about finding the work that makes you happy at every stage of your career (as evidenced by every word we’ve ever written), but let’s be honest about how much more weight this point has when you’re in the senior zone. At 25 you can work at jobs that you’ll laugh about later in life (handing out flyers at the train station, peeling potatoes eight hours a day and donning sweaty mascot costumes all come to mind). At 35 you can make trade-offs like working 60+ hours a week because the dough is decent and feeds the mortgage. At 45 you can make trade-offs like traveling across the country every other week because it puts you next in line for the promotion that really matters to you. But at 65, there just isn’t room for a lot of compromise.
We have a tremendous opportunity to make our senior working experiences truly spectacular ones if we’re thoughtful about them. If you’re nearing retirement and know you’re not ready to golf all day every day, or if you’ve already retired and you’re thinking of working to any extent, ask yourself these questions:
What to I GET to do next?
What are the top three things that I value in life right now? What roles out there align with those values?
What job would make me feel proud at this point in life?
What talents and experiences do I have to offer, and where can I use them?
What kind of job would I look forward to going to for each shift/ day?
What kind of example do I want to set for my family, AND for the people I’ll be working alongside?
Many of our senior clients have found their encore careers to be the most fulfilling. They’ve released themselves of the pressure we often put on ourselves earlier in our careers. (Am I getting ahead fast enough? Do I look smart enough? Why am I letting my boss get inside my head so much?) They’re more interested in making a difference, more interested in the give than the take. Many are focusing on having fun and trying new things in their new part-time reality, which they say keeps them young.
So, while some of us put up the Gone Fishin’ sign as soon as we hit senior status, most of us have a fortuitous excuse to do something that brings us joy, meaning, connection (and a bit of cash). Foregoing retirement to work at a job that lights us up really doesn’t sound like work at all.
If this sounds like you or like someone you know but you (or they) aren’t really sure where to start, we can help.
Stats (for those of you who care):
Check this interactive chart out for a bracing visual about how old you are compared to the rest of the humans around you.
Really feeling into this? This chart tells you how many “Years You Have Left to Live, Probably.” Carpe diem, baby.