“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover,” a quote from author, H. Jackson Brown Jr, in his book, P.S. I love You (1990. For the thousands of Boomers embarking on their own retirement journey it is great advice.
There is no question that Boomers are re-inventing the concept of retirement. Whether they are contemplating retirement, embarking on this new journey or settling into a period of what would best be described as “un-retirement”; they are all busy figuring out the next twenty plus years will look like. Boomers are looking at retirement differently than previous generations because their life was shaped and influenced by a vastly different world than in previous generations.
- Boomers were raised in a time of prosperity when anything seemed possible. Their parents were raised during the great depression.
- Boomers experienced the explosion of technology and the birth of a knowledge economy which opened access to the world.
- Boomers married later in life and had 1.5 children, on average, compared to 3.5 for their parents. The offspring of Boomers were raised with more liberal values.
- Boomers were, and still are idealists. They pushed the boundaries on important social issues including gender and racial equality. They were game changers when they were young adults and they still are today.
- Boomers were the first generation where dual careers and dual incomes were the norm; but that doesn’t mean they are better off financially.
- Boomers tended to be more nomadic as they pursued career opportunities. They were more likely to live in suburbia. Their parents were community builders.
- Boomers were shaped by a global perspective which opened up a myriad of new possibilities that were not available in previous generations.
- Boomers had access to higher education as a norm, while many of their parents left school to work after the 8th or 10th
- Boomers had and continue to have better and more access to healthcare. Because of advances in healthcare, the average life span has increased by 15 years longer than previous generations. This means much more time spent in retirement.
So how do these influences shape retirement differently for Boomers? With an idealism that is embedded in their DNA and not easily tempered, Boomers aren’t quite ready for lawn bowling, bingo night, or a good game of cards. That may come later. They have many more goals to accomplish and dreams to chase. Armed with good health and lots of energy, they are ready to tackle new challenges. They are hungry to learn more about the world and its cultures; to consider new philosophies and explore the breath of their spirituality.
This new generation of retirees has the time and resources to make significant contributions to humanity and to the planet, whether it’s eradicating poverty, advocating for the environment or promoting peace. They have longevity on their side which allows them to continue to make meaningful contributions to society for many more years to come. Forget retirement! Hello un-retirement!