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Will you be a “working retiree”? by Barbara Babkirk, co-host, YSA Conference and owner of Heart At Work Associates
A recent study from Merrill Lynch determined that nearly three out of five retirees will launch a new work chapter after they retire from primary careers.
The term “working retiree” may seem like an oxymoron, but it’s a new reality that is here to stay. It’s predicted to have a significant impact on the marketplace due to low population growth and high talent needs.
If you’re wondering why this shift in retirement mindset is coming about after just one generation, think about the characteristics of this baby boomer demographic:
- best educated in history
- commitment to lifelong learning
- healthy lifestyles and
- desire to make a difference (think sit-ins and demonstrations of the 70’s)
But, not all boomers who want to work after retirement share the same reasons or priorities around work. Ken Dychtwald, gerontologist, author and expert on aging issues, has identified four “core profiles” of today’s working retirees:
- Driven Achievers (15%) who have consistent derived their identity from work and continue to be driven to achieve
- Caring Contributors (33%) who are motivated to give back and make a difference in the latter part of their lives
- Life Balancers (25%) who see work at this time of their lives as fitting into larger priorities and want work to be fairly stress-free and fun
- Earnest Earners (28%) who need to work to meet financial obligations, whether or not they want to continue working. Since a significant number of boomers have not adequately saved for retirement, this group is predicted to grow.
If you’re among the significant number of retirees who leave work and after 6 to 18 months, miss the structure, camaraderie, or sense of purpose, then you may be joining the emerging group of working retirees.
Identifying your “core profile” from Dychtwald’s list as well as knowing what is motivating you in this next life phase, is essential to forging a successful path.
“We can not live the afternoon of life with the program of life’s morning.” Carl Jung
Just when you think you had life figured out, you wake up to discover that the map of life that has guided you no longer leads you anyplace that you care to go.
While not much else may be clear, one thing is certain: your former way of approaching life no longer satisfies you and you feel adrift and unclear about what comes next.
You may wonder if this rather sudden dissatisfaction with your life is a delayed midlife crisis or if you’ve lost your mind. But, in fact, you’ve not lost anything. To the contrary, you are approaching the path that leads to a discovery—of own your true self.
Life in the second half is perplexing. It presents everyone, no matter their profession, income, or gender, with the most simple, yet complex question of their lives: Who am I meant to be?
It is said that the challenge of our early years is to establish an identity that is based on skills, competencies and ego-boosting accomplishments. That all tends to change as we enter into the second half of life and begin to come to grips with our own mortality.
Recognizing that you no longer have all the time in the world is sobering. For many, this realization, coupled with jarring world events like terrorist attacks and severe weather patterns, makes a compelling case for aligning life with what matters most.
But when the former map is no longer viable, how do you navigate through this transition?
The following eight steps may help you as you face into a second half of life challenge:
- Acknowledge and be curious about this significant phase of life.
- Slow down your pace and pay attention to what is happening within you–emotionally and physically.
Action step: Invite stillness and reflection, keep a journal of your thoughts and feelings, meditate, take yoga or do something different that will balance the “doing” in your life.
- Make an effort to live in the present moment.
- Attempt one activity at a time and be mindful of your actions at any given moment.
Action step: Give up multi-tasking for a few hours, then extend it to half a day, then a day…notice the difference it makes.
- Learn to manage your fears.
- Focus on what you desire, rather than what you fear might happen.
Action step: Be conscious of your breathing; it will help you release your fear. Stop
conjuring up stories of worst case scenarios and instead, focus on the outcome you want.
- Develop your intuition and creativity.
- Acknowledge and make time for your creative self in any form appeals to you.
Action step: Engage in specific activities that nurture your intuition and self-expression.
- Identify what is most important in your life and begin to live your life accordingly.
- Be willing to recognize where your life is out of sync with your priorities.
Action step: Pick one area that needs realignment and take action on it.
6. Get in touch with your deepest longings.
- Give yourself permission to name your desires or recreate a dream.
Action step: Keep a dream journal; note what you would regret not having done in your lifetime.
- Establish a supportive community.
- Seek out and accept support from others.
Action step: Identify those people who contribute to your growth and those who hinder it. Be with those who encourage you.
- Express your gratitude daily.
- Act as if you knew that gratitude was the most transformative force in the Universe.
Action step: Be aware of the abundance in your life and give thanks as a daily practice.