July 13, 2010

Baby Boomer Reinvention of Retirement

There is a beginning of another new way the Baby Boomer Generation is changing what “retirement” will mean in the future occurring. This is resulting out of two driving forces, of which one is how the past decades of greed of the rich and powerful have destroyed what used to be thought of as retirement. The other is once again, just a natural result of the sheer size of this generation of people who were born between 1946 and 1964. Retirement is defined as, “the period of one’s life after leaving one’s job and ceasing to work”. 

The generations previous to the Baby Boomers, “The Greatest Generation” was the first to actually do this. Previous to the industrial age, there really was no retirement, nor a need to do so, as the life expectancy was not long enough to know what that would have meant anyway. So, as the parents of the Boomers worked long hours of hard labor through their lives, they were able to save money to stop working the job they had for most of their lives and “enjoy” their elder years. The word, “enjoy” here is relative, as health issues, often brought on by a complete stopping of all activity and thought, deeply affected the amount of enjoyment realized by most. Now the Baby Boomers, who saw and just naturally thought this was what retirement meant and also knew that they would be forced to retire at a certain age, realized they must save for this part of their lives at some point. This is where the greed that took advantage of these life long savings comes to bear, followed by the realization that these life long savings were gone.

Once again, it’s time to be innovative and reinvent. Boomers are now changing what retirement means, which is to find what your best talents, put them to work, combined with your true passion and continue to work as long as your body and mind will allow. There is no need to quit working, in fact, stopping all work will remove one’s purpose and thus reason to live a longer and more purposeful life. My mother always said, “When you make yourself go to work, you stay healthy. When you take off is when you get sick”. How true that has become.

Since losing my corporate job of over 22 years in 2008, I have been searching for what I want to do when I grow up...or for the rest of my life. I knew it had to be something that I wanted to go do every day and that it had to have something to do with some of my best talents. My strongest passion has always been music, whether it was playing it or listening to it. Music is an expression of spirit and a language of the human species. It has much more of a profound affect on our lives than we can imagine, as much as the environment and planet we live on. It influences our behavior on a daily basis, even when we are not aware of it, through media and our surroundings.

Some of my other best passions involve behaviors between people. During those 22 corporate working years, I observed and learned how teams work together, how others manage or do not manage teams and how upper management disconnects from behaviors and talents of its core work force. There is a disconnect of how to get the best abilities from its corporate workers, so much so that a completely new industry grew out of the last 20 years. Many who were dissatisfied with the corporate environment found that they could go to these large businesses and provide some structure in how people behave with one another, with a method that corporate executives could buy into. Basically, this “Coaching” business was created out of the fact that the corporate business world totally lost its capability of how to understand how to treat people!

One of the fundamentals of human behavior is interacting with another person in a way that will allow cooperation with each other. When one chooses to work alone, that person quickly discovers the limits of their capabilities and realizes that they need someone else’s help to accomplish certain goals. The best way to enable this cooperation is to promote beneficial behavior among them, in other words, make a friend and they will help you. Large businesses became so deeply focused on the prime directive of profit and growth that they became dysfunctional in this key fundamental knowledge of how people work together as teams. This new Coaching industry was welcomed into the corporate world as a methodology of correcting this. (I find this completely amazing that large groups of people forget how to behave to others when they enter that corporate world, and become someone different than they are in their personal lives!)

This brings me back to another of my passions, and that is to make every member of a team or of any effort, feel that they are valued and have something to contribute to any goal. I knew that this is another passion that I must bring to my new business venture.

The third passion I have been developing over that last 20 years is innovative thinking. I found my corporate years very frustrating because, in spite of the fact that I worked in an area that was born from innovation, technology, my environment did not promote it. The corporate world has been throwing the word “innovation” around for the last 10 years, but most did not seem to really understand what it meant. The other aspect was really back to the lack of effort to find what employees do best, and matching their job with those abilities. One cannot assign a person to suddenly be “innovative”, as this is actually “creativity” and comes from a person who possesses a heightened ability of the part of the human brain that “creates”.

These passions, that have taken my last 50 years to develop and realize, will be absolutely key to the success of my own business. The ongoing need to focus my efforts on these key aspects must be centered as often as possible, as the day to day of business will tend to cloud this focus. This is where the love of what you are doing works for you. The enjoyment of doing something you love to do, always grounds you, to naturally make you do whatever it takes to keep that focus for success.

As the Boomers enter this latter phase of life and struggle through the transition of it, we may realize that the remedies for all the predicted health, social and ecological issues of the Baby Boomer Generation growing old, may just be the realization that we must continue to work forever for monetary reasons as well as providing the best “quality of life”.


Dave said...

Very good points David especially regarding discovering your passion (or passions in your case) and incorporating them into your retired life. Retirement does not mean stop everything and watch the grass grow. A focus on a passion makes you excited to get up each morning and keeps your mind fresh. With the advances of modern medicine, boomers can hope to live longer lives. It is important that the quality of those lives is proportionate with the longevity.

David said...

Thanks for your comment and thoughts Dave!