As the tidal wave of baby boomers enter their retirement years across Canada, there are two major forces reshaping our view of retirement.
Longevity: We are living longer and healthier. The average life expectancy today is age 82, with females even longer. National Geographic recently featured a cover featuring a newborn baby today who could potentially live to 110 years of age. How do we as a society prepare for the possibility of living that long?
Declining Birth Rates: Combined with our ageing population, this will have a big impact on the number of workers who will replace the retiring baby boomers.
The result is that the baby boom generation has now become a huge wave of Canadians who will out of necessity have to reinvent their retirement. Many will be required to reset their retirement clock, as about a third of boomers polled believe they will still be working well past age 65.
Much of the boomer generation is accustomed to a linear life plan: Go to grade school, then college or university, get a job, work to 65 and retire comfortably. Unfortunately this model has now gone out the window, as we now have to deal with this longevity bonus, and how to deal with this extra time alive.
Many retires may move to a more cyclical life plan. Boomers value relationships and dreams, for example going on a trip with grandchildren. Maybe visiting exotic locations around the world like Machu Picchu or helping build homes for Habitat of Humanity or one of many other endeavours.
While adjusting to a more flexible retirement, a few opt to continue to work full time, while about a quarter may cycle between work and leisure. About 39% choose to work part time while 29% want to never work for pay again but may volunteer in some way. Many retirees report that they miss the social connections that work provided more than the money that they were now no longer earning.
Some takeaways from this: If you still like your job, why not keep working? Or use the time to learn a new language, get a degree, or develop new hobbies. Enjoy the newfound liberty or find a new purpose to life. We need to embrace this whole new definition of retirement, to remain engaged, to reinvent our retirement years and enjoy the freedom this affords us, to spend time doing those things of our choosing.
Like this advice from an old saying, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, but the next best time is today”, don’t get stuck in a rut. As my wise father-in-law often said “The only difference between a rut and a grave is that a grave has ends”. We can either embrace the changing face of retirement, living our lives to the fullest or be stuck in the same old rut!
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