Why More Baby Boomers Are Rethinking Retirement


Once upon a time, American workers looked forward to the day they turned 65 or 62 and could retire to a quiet, simpler life.


Those days have changed. Now, as the baby boomer generation starts hitting retirement age, they are rethinking the entire retirement options. There are numerous reasons for this. First, and foremost, is financial. Many baby boomers have lost significant amounts of money in the market and in their retirement savings during the economic downturn of the last year.


Another reason has to do with their concern about “What am I going to do with myself?” when they retire. This new generation hits age 60 running, and they are much healthier and think in ways that are much younger and broader than their parents did at the same age.


I have coached several clients around the age of 60–62, who are very concerned about being completely bored during retirement. These individuals have had very successful and rewarding careers up to this point—several were lawyers, another was a very successful high-tech marketing executive.


When they retire at 62 or 65, many of them are still very interested in staying intellectually active and/or pursuing some type of career, at least on a part-time basis. If you consider that people are currently living into their 80s, that leaves a good 20 years of working professional time still available as an option.


So, what can this non-retiring generation do? With entrepreneurship on the rise, this opens many opportunities for baby boomers to open a business or to freelance. This gives them the opportunity to pursue a passion and start a business, which would allow them the flexibility and autonomy to combine work with other leisure activities, normally associated with retirement. I know a former lawyer who retired and then opened a pet-sitting business because pets were his hobby.


Nonprofit work also offers great opportunities to baby boomers when they retire. They could volunteer and work on one or several nonprofit boards. This would still keep them active professionally without tying up all of their time. The same goes for successful business people who have taken early retirement. I have a colleague who was a very successful and well-paid CFO in numerous high-tech startups. After making a lot of money, she took early retirement and now sits on the boards of five companies (She gets paid for this!), and she coaches individuals on how to get, and be successful in, board leadership roles.


If you’re approaching retirement age and pondering several options in a working or volunteer role (anything ranging from working full time in your present position to following your passion), here are five questions to ask yourself first:


1.      What are my financial requirements during retirement?

2.      What is important to me at this point in my life?

3.      What are my interests and passions?

4.      What else would I like to do with my time besides work?

5.      What types of organizations am I passionate about?


Once you have honestly answered these questions, you can determine which options are best for you, and you can start planning what to do for the next chapter of your life.