Opinion

Boomers: The generation that redefines retirement?

Chicago Skytop

Baby boomers are getting old quickly.

They’re talking about retiring.

They see headlines that say, “By 2025 three-fourths of the workforce will be millennials.”

All of this is concerning to boomers, but they’re hardly being babies about it.

Some say boomers never have lived up to their promise. I say their promise and more may be realized by the way they’ll reshape the notion of retirement.

Retirement brings to mind visions of rocking chairs on the front porch.

For the last eight years boomers should have been securing the most wealth they ever have in their working lives. Instead, they have remain engaged in the midst of a global recession, with a recovery that has only made it to the wealthy minority or one percent.

What most boomers, millennials and anyone else working during the last eight years have in common is their accumulation of personal, individual wealth has been minuscule.

And for boomers, these miserly gains in total net worth have caused introspection regarding retirement and what the word actually means for them.

Most boomers I know are not going to retire any time soon if they can help it. That is, unless they are forced into retirement due to inability to get and/or keep a job.

Additionally, boomers nearing retirement age have to contend with the silent, subtle scourge that is age discrimination.

If looked upon from an angle that warrants consideration, actually the only way boomers who do not have adequate retirement savings should look at the retirement scenario, somewhere in there is an opportunity to leave a legacy.

Traditional retirement modes hasten the end of life. And boomers have a chance to reshape how everyone thinks about retirement.

First of all, while a 401(k) is referred to as a retirement plan, it is entirely predicated on the stock market. As such, it is subject to the speculative nature of the stock market. Traditional pensions are a thing of the past, like factory jobs in this country. Most boomers will need to keep working into their 60s and beyond. Their 401(k)’s are not going to be enough.

People on Buchanan Street in Glasgow. Scotland...

People on Buchanan Street in Glasgow. Scotland’s population is getting older as many baby boomers approach retirement. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Working at this later stage of life is where the chance for personal and professional growth ultimately exists. In order for boomers to thrive in retirement they’ll need to find meaningful and gainful employment. They will need to do this by overcoming the stings of age discrimination. And they can accomplish this by asking how they can contribute to society at a time when those who have lived before them opted to stretch out and kick their feet up.

I know that even if I have enough resources to not have to work in my golden years, I will still keep on working. It may not be a job that requires regular overtime. It will probably not be a position that requires the strength and endurance of my formative years either. But it will most certainly be work that somehow has meaning while affording supplemental income.

This is the path that lies ahead for baby boomers. We can take back the world and what history thinks of us. We have heard repeatedly throughout our lives that we did not live up to our potential, that we started out with so much ambition and dreamed dreams that were of course, big, but never lived up to expectations.

And now we’re supposed to just fade away. As time passes for us at this point, we will most certainly be a strain on the resources related to our healthcare and wellbeing. We will be forced to rethink and consequently reshape what retirement looks like on a daily basis.

Some are saying that the generation who followed the greatest generation is not capable of changing their fate for the better late in life. They also say as a result they will not be perceived favorably once the last of the boomers are gone.

We will assume the role of underdogs as we continue to work as much as, and as best as, we can. There is still potential to be realized, goals to be set and achieved. I would suggest the end is not quite as near as some would have you believe. Boomers at this stage are dependable and have life experience that can’t be taught. Is there a more important currency to consider when vetting potential job candidates?

The benefits of having failed repeatedly in the eyes of others has never been studied to my knowledge. If it had been, surely the qualities of persistence and continuing to try against all odds would have been determined to be precursors for success.

Accordingly, I would not be so quick to judge boomers. Nor would I bet against them.

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