Retirement and Self-Discovery

OnaWhimA major study about retirement called the Retirement Transitions Study reveals that many retirees face a psychological battle for self-discovery. Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile, who conducted the research along with colleagues from other institutions, says that retirees are typically "searching for something to replace [their] work identity." Amabile's team cut a broad swath with their research, interviewing 120 professionals at three different companies located in separate geographic areas of the United States. They talked to Millennials, workers approaching retirement, late-career professionals entering retirement, and those who had already retired, all at the same companies.

Amabile saw a distinct pattern emerge from the research: Those who had retired seemed to be quite happy about it initially, but then, after several weeks or months, the novelty wore off. According to Amabile, “You go from [work] to having to be an architect of a new life structure and, often, a new identity, where you need to build a new life and explore new activities, relationships, and ways of thinking about yourself.”

One of the intriguing qualities uncovered in the research is something called building "identity bridges," which retirees use as a strategy for preserving continuity between their pre-and post-retirement selves. Some of these identity bridges include "activating a latent identity" (rediscovering a passion that could not be pursued due to the rigors of work), "maintaining a life philosophy" that helps an individual remain positive despite the challenges of retirement, and "finding a new source for valued affirmation" (establishing relationships that provide the positive feedback that work used to offer).

This is important research that may very well validate what you feel if you are thinking about retirement or have already retired. Read more about it here: https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/welcome-to-retirement-who-am-i-now

Have you heard about the new book, Boomer Brands?


You Deserve a "Respectful Exit"

OntheClockGenerally I stay away from any kind of open endorsement in writing my blog posts, but I feel compelled to tell you about an organization called "Respectful Exits." Led by Paul Rupert, an expert in flexible scheduling and staffing, this nonprofit has initiated a national campaign with local affiliates. Their goal is to get employer practices "to catch up with the new longevity." The Respectful Exits "Longevity Agenda" has the following objectives:

  • End the 65 “sell-by” date as a mandatory or informal “retirement age”

  • Practice career-long development and training of all staff

  • Encourage robust flexible scheduling for employees of all ages

  • Provide ongoing, on-demand financial wellness counseling

  • Implement and promote flexible and phased retirement options.

Respectful Exits has just launched a free online tool called "The Phazer." Here's how the organization describes it:

The guidance in The Phazer™ is based on tools and processes we developed in the phased retirement programs of major companies. Hundreds have used them successfully. While no one can guarantee the success of a given proposal – and there are risks in stepping forward – two truisms apply here: “If you don’t ask, you won’t get” and “You don’t get what you deserve…you get what you negotiate.”

Think of this site as a GPS to the destination of your choice. 

Kudos to Respectful Exits for taking a proactive approach to age discrimination in the workplace. If you are in a situation with an employer where you are being phased out or terminated because of your age, even if you want to continue to work, you should definitely check out Respectful Exits in general and The Phazer specifically. Here are the links to their sites:

https://www.respectfulexits.org/

https://www.thephazer.org/

Have you heard about the new book, Boomer Brands?


Savor the Memories: The Brands You Loved as a Kid in a New Book

I am excited to announce the publication of my new book, written especially for Boomers!

Standup1Boomer Brands: Iconic Brands that Shaped Our Childhood is a unique book that celebrates the brands of the 50s and 60s. The book covers cereal, soft drink, snack food, fast food, toy, car, beauty brands and more, as well as rock ‘n’ roll, protest and environmental brands. I share “Boomer Brand Cameos” of over fifty of the brands Boomers grew up with: Disney, Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, Good Humor, Howard Johnson, Hush Puppies, MAD, Ovaltine, Twinkies, and WIFFLE Ball, to name a few. Plus, Boomers will gain rare insight into how these iconic brands shaped their childhood and have a lasting impact on their life.

Publishers Weekly says Boomer Brands is “a delightful journey through a time that saw the birth of the modern brand,” while Midwest Book Review calls it “a unique, entertaining, nostalgic, and impressively informative read from first page to last.”

 Boomers are already buzzing about Boomer Brands:

When was the last time you had your memory tickled over a long-forgotten but prized product that shaped your childhood? You’ll find a lot of those “Oh, yeah, I remember” moments in Barry Silverstein’s wonderful wander down Memory Lane. “Try it, you’ll like it.”
- Ron Schon, Retired Advertising Agency Executive and OLLI Instructor,
“The History of Advertising”

Boomer Brands is a delightful book filled with fun facts about our favorite childhood brands and memories. If you're over 50, you're sure to enjoy this nostalgic, entertaining and informative stroll down Memory Lane. 
- Nancy Collamer, Career/Retirement Coach and Author, Second-Act Careers

If you remember watching Saturday morning TV while slurping down a bowl of Frosted Flakes, or perhaps begged your parents to visit Disneyland after watching Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday night, you’ll want to read Boomer Brands. This enjoyable, easy read is chock full of fun facts about what made the brands we grew up with iconic.
- Anne Holmes, “Boomer in Chief,” National Association of Baby Boomer Women

Barry Silverstein offers a fun walk down Memory Lane for boomers, describing what made some of their favorite childhood brands so treasured then and now.
- Richard Eisenberg, Managing Editor, Nextavenue.org

Boomer Brands is meant to be read by Boomers, shared with Boomers, and savored for the memories! It is available from all major booksellers in print and eBook editions. Find out more about it, download a free chapter, or purchase a copy here:

http://www.boomerbrandsbook.com


Age Discrimination is Alive and Well

MusingsAge discrimination in the American workplace remains problematic for anyone over the age of 50. An ongoing study by Pro Publica and the Urban Institute, has followed since 1992 a nationally representative sample of about 20,000 people from the time they turn 50 through the rest of their lives. Through 2016, the study found that 56 percent of this sample were laid off at least once or left jobs under financially damaging circumstances. The analysis further showed that only 10 percent of these workers ever again earn as much as they did before their employment setbacks. Richard Johnson, an urban economist from the Urban Institute who worked on the study, concluded, “For the majority of older Americans, working after 50 is considerably riskier and more turbulent than we previously thought.”

There is strong evidence from the study that a majority of Americans over 50 with stable jobs are pushed out of work. The study showed that "28 percent of stable, longtime employees sustain at least one damaging layoff by their employers between turning 50 and leaving work for retirement... An additional 13 percent of workers who start their 50s in long-held positions unexpectedly retire under conditions that suggest they were forced out."

The bottom line: The data analysis conducted suggests "as many as 22 million of these people have or will suffer a layoff, forced retirement or other involuntary job separation. Of these, only a little over 2 million have recovered or will." In an excellent article on Pro Publica about age discrimination and the results of the study, Carl Van Horn, a Rutgers University professor and director of the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, commented, “There’s no safe haven in today’s labor market. Even older workers who have held jobs with the same employer for decades may be laid off without warning.”

This is not the first time I have reported on age discrimination in this blog. The more I read about age discrimination, the more I wonder if it is representative of a broader societal attitude toward aging. Employers routinely discriminate against older employees, hiring younger (i.e. less expensive) employees to take their place -- making the federal age discrimination law nothing more than a paper tiger. It is true that a few companies boast hiring older employees, but it is comparatively only a handful. 

Are we really at the stage where people over 50 can be thrown out of the workforce simply because of their age? Apparently, the answer is yes. Imagine the experience and knowledge base that is being tossed out as well. It's a sad commentary with no end in sight.


How Do You Define "Old"?

MusingsAs Boomers age, they are likely to redefine old age based on their own lives and perceptions. In a recent article for The New York Times, Steven Petrow asks the provocative question, "Am I 'Old'?" and discovers that the answer is entirely different based on who is being asked. Sergei Scherbov, a researcher on aging, answers the question with a broader definition, telling Petrow that "an old age threshold should not be fixed but depend on the characteristics of people.” He sees such factors as life expectancy, disability rates, cognitive function, and personal health as contributing to the definition of old age. Thankfully, says Scherbov, a 65-year old today is generally equivalent to a 55-year old from forty-five years ago.

It turns out that different generations define "old age" differently, too. According to Petrow, we Boomers generally regard 73 as the start of old age, while Gen Xers think it is more like 65 years of age. Meanwhile, Millennials believe 59 is "old."

Sadly, the negative perceptions of elders is a universal phenomenon: Well over half (almost two-thirds) of respondents to an international survey by the World Health Organization "did not respect older people," writes Petrow. In high-income countries such as the U.S., the lack of respect for older people was highest.

Ultimately, we all define old age in personal, subjective terms. Those of us who are spry, active and healthy at 65 or 70 probably perceive old age as far in the future, while Boomers afflicted with health issues or limited mobility may feel differently. Being engaged and vital, having a full and rich life, and feeling useful may all contribute to seeing aging in a positive light.

How do you define "old"? Maybe the best way to look at it is simply, "You're only as old as you think you are."


The Work Dilemma of the "Tweener"

MusingsI've noticed more and more reporting on the work dilemma of the "tweener" -- the 50s-something Boomer who finds himself or herself in that strange transitional role somewhere between full-time work and retirement. Many of these younger Boomers have come to the realization that they will need to work longer than they may have anticipated simply because they need to fund living longer. Others, even if financially secure, recognize that they need to work to feel fulfilled.

A recent article in The New York Times characterizes this time of life as one in which the Boomer needs to become a "modern elder," says Chip Conley who, after running his own company for twenty-four years, was asked to mentor executives in a technology company. It put him in the unusual position of an industry expert with very little in the way of technology experience or, as the article states, "he was often the oldest person in the room, learning from colleagues who were young enough to be his children."

In his new book, Wisdom at Work: The Making of a Modern Elder, Conley further details his own experience and explores the concept of the modern elder. He believes the modern elder 's role is "simultaneously sharing wisdom while embracing fresh ideas and ways of thinking." The article's author, Marci Alboher, was inspired by Conley to seek out other role models for the modern elder, and she says she found a lot of them, all in their 50s. She admits that she also learned, however, that "it helps to have a financial safety net" if you are going to consider a more non-traditional work role such as Conley discovered.

Boomers in their 50s are often faced with this kind of dilemma, either because they are summarily dismissed from the full-time job they had for decades, or they tire of it and want a new challenge. The fundamental problem in our society is people in their 50s, 60s and 70s are thrown on the scrapheap rather than offered employment opportunities that take advantage of their years of experience. Thankfully, some companies are enlightened and work with older employees to transition them out of a full-time job to a part-time or consultative role, but that is rare. Instead, Boomer employees are discriminated against because of age. They lose the jobs they have and then cannot get another position because they are overlooked in favor of younger employees. The sad fact is that a company that terminates a Boomer employee due to age is often losing the value of the employee's considerable knowledge base.

Perhaps the "modern elder" model will take hold, but in order for that to happen, employers have to acknowledge the value of contracting with Boomers, and Boomers have to be in a position to risk taking on non-traditional employment. Still, being a modern elder presents another novel option for Boomers who need to or want to work and are excluded from the job market.


Yes, You can Start a Business This Year

OnYourOwnThere's a boom in small business, and a significant percentage of it is being driven by Boomers. As much as one-quarter of all new businesses are started by Boomers age 55 to 64, according to the 2017 Kauffman Index of Startup Activity. Older entrepreneurs, even beyond the age of 64, are becoming increasingly common.

The rise in Boomer businesses is not all that unusual. Highly skilled Boomers who are let go from the workplace find that they can leverage their expertise and skills into starting their own business. Boomers who may be tired of working for someone else may see a real opportunity in being self-employed. Still, Boomers should be aware of a sobering statistic reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics: Half of all small businesses fail by their fifth year.

That doesn't prevent plenty of Boomers from starting a business, but as with anything else, a key to success is going into it with your eyes wide open. Here's some great advice from a Forbes article by Robin Ryan.  She spoke with three experts on business startups and garnered these main points:

Focus on a target audience: Your chances of success are greater if you target a niche and know exactly who your prospects are.

Define your perfect client: "You need to be clear and know the exact type of person you seek to work with, and who will benefit most from working with you."

Go where the prospects are: Once you know who you are targeting, look for them in the right places: the organizations they belong to, the meetings they attend, the publications they read, the websites they visit, etc.

My wife and I left the traditional workforce in our late 50s to strike out on our own. We started a small service business and ran it together for seven years. After selling that business, I became an independent marketing consultant/freelance writer. Both of these reinventions have worked well for me.

Starting a business isn't for every Boomer, but it definitely presents a viable option for many of us.


Freeing Yourself with Creativity in Retirement

MusingsOne of the more intriguing avenues open to retirees is to find your creative self. I have personally witnessed creative transformations occur when Boomers retire. I know one business executive who turned his attention to working with wood and has created exceptional pieces as a result. I know another professional who took up jewelry making, and yet another who pursued a love of art and has become a successful water colorist. I myself have followed my muse and become a freelance writer.

Patricia Corrigan, writing for NextAvenue.org, reports on four retirees who were unafraid to pursue their passions: a doctor who became a sculptor, an aeronautics engineer who began to make chocolate, a retired CEO who took up photography, and a retired buyer at a manufacturing firm who knits scarves. Their stories are well worth reading.

Chocolate maker Doug Cale had this to say about his second act: “For me, life is all about engagement. Coming up with new ways to do things day in and day out, what I get out of this job is the creativity. And being creative is a form of relaxation for me.”

Like so many other things in life, and especially as we face retirement, a positive attitude is everything. The four people Corrigan writes about are no more or less unique than any of us -- they just had a passion and the courage to follow it. They freed themselves and found their own creativity in completely different ways.

Your second act should be a time when you pursue what you love. Perhaps it is something you remember from your childhood, something you always wanted to do but never had the time to do. Or maybe it is a new-found interest. Whether it is for fun or profit, creativity can bring a lot of joy and fulfillment to retirement. Try it!


Should You Freelance in 2019?

OnYourOwnMore and more Boomers face the work-life dilemma as they age. While there is no single perfect solution for everyone, an attractive option may be freelancing. This type of contract or hourly work used to be reserved for writers, designers, photographers and other creative types, but today, freelancing has a much broader definition. That's because the "gig economy" is thriving, so it is possible to freelance in just about any field. A recent study indicates that as much as 35 percent of the American population freelances, and more than half of them (51 percent) prefer freelancing to a traditional job, stating that "no amount of money" would make them switch. Another study puts the typical freelancer's hourly wage at $31 per hour -- but that can go much higher depending upon the market.

There was a time when Boomers only freelanced as "consultants" between jobs -- it was more of a pit stop along the way to "real" employment. Now, however, many Boomers are finding that freelance work can be personally and financially rewarding. It can provide you with a flexible work situation and decent income to supplement retirement savings.

Here are two helpful articles from The Balance that offer valuable information about freelancing:

"The Average Freelancer Salary in the U.S." - In this article, you'll find typical hourly and annual income figures for freelance positions in IT/Programming, Design and Multimedia, Writing and Translation, Sales and Marketing, Engineering and Manufacturing, Legal Services, and Administrative and Customer Support. 

"Best Second Job Ideas" - While this article primarily addresses freelancing as a second job, it offers an excellent overview of the freelance and second job market. It also offers a comprehensive list of "best second jobs" in alphabetical order from A to Z. This list is a great idea starter if you are uncertain what type of freelance position you might want to seek.

In addition to the above articles, do a search on freelance jobs and you'll discover a wealth of resources available to you. Maybe freelancing is the work-life solution you are looking for.


Job Search Sites May be the Best Option for Boomers

OntheClockYou've heard it over and over again -- and perhaps faced it yourself: Ageism, aka age discrimination, is rampant in American business. This makes it especially difficult for Boomers to find employment, because they can be silently discriminated against. As a result, the best option for job-searching Boomers may be to take advantage of the Internet. Numerous job search sites are available, and some even specialize in helping Boomers secure positions. Here are a few that might help:

  • RetirementJobs.com
    RetirementJobs.com, Inc. now has more than one million members nationwide. The site's goal is to identify companies most-suited to older workers and match them with active, productive, conscientious, mature adults seeking a job or project that matches their lifestyle. The RetirementJobs.com service is completely free for job seekers. The service provides the option of upgrading to a premium service which gives access to seminars and special content, and enables job seekers to easily identify job openings from employers they have certified or pre-certified as age friendly.
  • FlexJobs.com 
    FlexJobs.com hand-screens flexible jobs, which it defines as remote, telecommute, part-time and/or freelance jobs. The site has professional job listings in over 50 career categories ranging from entry-level to executive, freelance to full-time, and local to global. FlexJobs charges for its service because it says it is "a premium job search service, offering you personalized support, curated and trusted resources, and guiding tools to help you in your job search, your career, and your work-life fit."
  • AARP Working at 50+
    Part of the AARP.org website, AARP Working at 50+ is an informational site with articles about staying competitive, age discrimination, work-life balance, and planning for retirement. The site also has an "AARP Job Board" to enable searching for positions by job, title, or company within cities/states.

If you need more sources, do a search on "jobs for Boomers" and you will find numerous other sites that may be of help. And be sure to check out this great list of resources from Nancy Collamer posted on Forbes.com.