Media

The Working Boomer

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Ken Dychtwald and his team at Age Wave are renowned for proactively lobbying for older Americans and against ageism. In a recent article for Harvard Business Review, Dychtwald and two researchers from Age Wave, Robert Morison and Katy Terveer, discuss "Redesigning Retirement" and why they believe "It's time for a new deal between employers and older workers."

The authors first cite some remarkable statistics:

"Altogether, more than 10 million Americans who are 65 or older are currently employed, and that number is projected to rise to nearly 15 million by 2032. Today 27% of Americans ages 65 to 74 work or are actively looking for jobs, up from 20% in 2002. And people who are 65 or older now represent the fastest-growing segment of the labor force—by far. It’s projected that by 2032 one in four U.S. workers will be 55 or older, and close to one out of every 10 will be 65 or older."

They urge employers and Americans in general to understand this changing dynamic:

"We need to overcome lingering ageist stereotypes and start thinking of older and retired workers as a large, versatile, and valuable labor pool—one that’s significantly underutilized. Nearly 60% of people who are in or nearing retirement say they would be open to working during their retirement. That includes some 20 million retirees under the age of 75. If employers can get better at hiring, retaining, and engaging older workers—redesigning the employment deal—they’ll discover countless options for mutually productive matches."

The remainder of the article, which is largely targeted to employers, discusses several common myths about older workers and strategies for employers to retain older workers or seek them out. They share five specific steps:

"If you are experiencing labor and talent shortfalls and have found that many of your valuable employees are exiting into retirement, it’s time to act. We recommend that you take five steps: Preserve experience, replenish experience, share experience, offer flexibility, and leverage age diversity."

The above steps are discussed in detail in the article. The authors conclude:

"Today more and more older people want or need to work longer—and more organizations than ever need their help. In this “new age of aging,” the strategies and initiatives we’ve described present a clear win-win: When older adults stay active and engaged, it’s good for them and their families, for employers and the economy, and for society at large."

It is encouraging that such organizations as Age Wave are making a strong case for retaining and hiring Boomers. I encourage you to follow Dychtwald and Age Wave as they help employers and older employees navigate a dynamic and changing workplace. 

Image from AgeWave.com

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What Can Boomers Do About Ageism?

Screen Shot 2024-02-20 at 1.00.20 PMAgeism is, literally, an age-old problem. The youngest Boomers turn 60 years of age in 2024. If they haven't faced the effects of ageism that older Boomers have already experienced, they soon will.

Ageism is a pervasive societal issue globally, not just in the United States. It is evident in the workplace, in healthcare, in the media, in consumer interactions and in everyday life. Older people are subjected to unwarranted firings, impatience and ridicule. Very simply, ageism is prejudicial and discriminatory.

Anti-ageism legislation and public awareness are helpful, but change comes slowly. As with most problems of social injustice, those affected must not be discouraged. They must be proactive and take individual action.

So what can you do about ageism? A new British campaign, "Age Without Limits," offers some guidance. Here are a few specifics from the campaign's website:

"There's lots you can do to challenge ageism as an individual. Taking an active stance against ageism is the only way we can change attitudes. You can do this in the following ways:

  1. Challenge ageism both internally (in both your own thinking and the words that you use) and ageism that you see in everyday conversations. 
  2. Formally complain about ageism when you come across it in the media and advertising.
  3. If you feel you have experienced direct or indirect discrimination, harassment, or victimisation in the workplace, you should follow your employer’s grievance procedure."

You'll find many more suggestions on the campaign website about how you can take action against ageism in the workplace, in your community, in everyday conversations, in the images you use, and in your communications and writing.

Another way in which you can combat ageism is to rekindle your youthful activism. Boomers were renowned for their activism in the Sixties and Seventies -- so why shouldn't our generation speak up again for the things we hold dear? Activism by people our age can dramatically change the perception that we are "old," "tired" and "washed up."

An organization designed to marshal people over sixty years of age is Third Act. According to the organization's website:

" 'Experienced Americans' are the fastest-growing part of the population: 10,000 people a day pass the 60-year mark. That means that there’s no way to make the changes that must be made to protect our planet and society unless we bring our power into play.

"...as a generation we have unprecedented skills and resources that we can bring to bear. Washington and Wall Street have to listen when we speak, because we vote and because we have a large—maybe an overlarge—share of the country’s assets. And many of us have kids and grandkids and great grandkids: we have, in other words, very real reasons to worry and to work."

Everyone who practices ageism wittingly or unwittingly may not fully appreciate that they too will someday be older. Don't let others define you by your age!

Image from https://www.agewithoutlimits.org/image-library

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A Country on the Cusp of "Peak 65"

Baby-boomer-442252_1280In a January 2024 research paper, the Retirement Income Institute reports that 2024 "marks the beginning of the 'Peak 65® Zone,' the largest surge of retirement age Americans turning 65 in our nation's history. Over 4.1 million Americans will turn 65 each year through 2027, which is more than 11,200 every day. By the year 2030, all baby boomers will be age 65 or older."

The Retirement Income Institute says that "fewer employers offer a traditional defined-pension retirement plan that provides much needed protected income throughout retirement. The old retirement system no longer fits the needs of today's American workforce. The result is that more Americans are currently at risk of entering retirement with Social Security as their only means of protected income, leaving many exposed to financial insecurity and lacking sufficient, reliable, and protected  retirement income that will last for the rest of their lives."

This assessment is troubling for millions of Boomers who are part of the "Peak 65" surge. It is likely one of the compelling reasons why a significant percentage of those age 65 and older remain in the workforce. According to the Pew Research Center, 19 percent of Americans age 65 or older were employed in 2023 -- nearly double the rate of those who were working 35 years ago. On average, they are working more hours than in previous decades. Today, 62 percent of older workers are working full time. In addition, older workers are twice as likely as younger workers to be self-employed.

Working may generate income today, but it may not result in enough to support our lifestyles in later years. That's why the Retirement Income Institute sees the old "three-legged stool" retirement model of an employer-provided defined-benefit pension plan, personal savings and Social Security as outmoded. Today, Social Security is the principal source of retirement income for most retirees, with Social Security benefits representing about 30 percent of the income for those over the age of 65.

So what is the answer for Boomers? Many, but not all, have been able to use investment vehicles such as 401(k) plans and IRAs to help secure their future retirement. Others plan to work as long as they possibly can. The Retirement Income Institute suggests potentially adding annuities to the mix to create what it calls a "personal pension plan." They point out, however, that annuities can be confusing to consumers, so Boomers need to educate themselves about these investments.

Many Boomers recognize that today, it is more important than ever to work in partnership with a financial advisor to develop a prudent plan to fund a comfortable retirement and be sure enough capital can be available when needed. If you haven't already worked with a financial advisor, don't wait. You are part of "Peak 65" and time is running out.


AARP Report: How Boomers Are Changing America

Course-1015596_1280In the September 2023 issue of the AARP Bulletin, AARP reported on trends demonstrating the impact Boomers are having on a changing America. Here are some of the key trends covered in their analysis:

The Workplace

Not surprisingly, the number of workers age 65 and older increased by 117 percent in twenty years, as has employment of individuals 75 and older, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Part-time work, phased retirement and "returnships" (short-term employment programs designed to help out-of-work individuals ease their way back into the workforce) are all trending up.

Healthcare

Healthcare is the only broad spending category that consistently increases with people's ages, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Boomer households spent on average $6,600 per year on healthcare in 2021 while Millennials spent a third less. One of the major trends is aging in place. Today nearly 300 hospital-at-home programs exist in the U.S., and one in six hospitals will likely offer such programs by 2030. Consulting firm McKinsey estimates that $265 billion in home health care will be delivered to Medicare beneficiaries by 2025.

Financial services

Some $18 trillion sits in IRAs and 401(k) retirement accounts held by Americans. According to the Federal Reserve, the median holding in retirement accounts is $164,000 for households of people ages 65 to 74. Well aware of these retirement investments, the financial services industry is aggressively targeting older Americans. As people live longer, a common strategy of financial services providers is to help retirees understand how to make their funds last through retirement. This is especially crucial for Americans who are 60 to 69 years of age, because more than half of households headed by this group have less than $250,000 in financial assets. The Social Security Administration estimates that about 20 percent of Americans 65 and older rely on Social Security for more than three-quarters of their income.

Fitness

Older Americans are embracing fitness and exercise. Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the country, with 49 percent of frequent pickle ball players age 55 and older, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. Everything from exercise machines to low-impact workout programs specifically target the senior set.

Travel

The top group in travel spending is Americans 60 to 60 years of age, according to AARP. Travelers in this age group will shell out an average of $7,300 this year, and those who are 50 and older will average four trips this year.

Entertainment

Older Americans are moviegoers, and we're seeing more older actors appearing in movies because of these older audiences. Music concerts are also popular with older Americans as performers in their seventies continue to appear on stage. Television viewing by older Americans is also strong, as evidenced by such breakthrough programs as ABC's The Golden Bachelor -- for the first time featuring a bachelor in his seventies.

Politics

You have only to look at the president, members of Congress, and Supreme Court justices to know that older Americans populate the government. What's more, older voters make a significant difference in deciding elections. According to AARP, 61 percent of ballots cast in the 63 closest races for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2022 were cast by voters 50 years of age or older. While change at federal, state and local governments comes slowly, legislation focused on an aging population is beginning to be proposed by lawmakers at all levels.

Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

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Retirement is Really About "Restructuring" and "Bridging"

Barca-473854_1280Researchers at Harvard Business School, Questrom School of Business, Bentley University and MIT Sloan School of Management recently interviewed 120 professionals to learn about the mental and emotional toll of retirement. They discovered that retirees go through two main processes: Life Restructuring and Identity Bridging

One of the researchers, Teresa Amabile of Harvard Business School, spoke with Curt Nickisch of Harvard Business Review about the study. In discussing "life restructuring," Amabile says,"You have to majorly restructure your life that day you walk out, whether you’ve been working full-time up to that retirement or part-time, you’re going to have to really approach your life differently."

Amabile suggests that the interactions with people in the workplace are significant. When individuals retire, "most of us don’t realize how anchoring and important those work relationships are.

"We also don’t realize how important the structure of work is. We have been living for several decades as kind of a tenant of a life structure that our organization has created for us. We know where we’re going to be at 9:00 AM Monday through Friday and we pretty much know what we’re going to be doing and who we’re going to be interacting with."

Amabile identifies four developmental tasks as part of life restructuring:

  1. The retirement decision: Deciding when to retire and how to retire.
  2. Detaching from work: "Some can let go completely... and for others, they have a hard time moving on at least mentally, even if they’re not engaging in work activities, they’re thinking about it a lot and they feel that they’re still in that world."
  3. Managing the liminal phase: "Liminal means betwixt and between – kind of in the midst of change of some kind." Some people plan for this carefully while others don't.
  4. The consolidation stage: That's when a new life structure is in place and it is working for the individual.

The second process is identity bridging. Amabile observes that people who can maintain or enhance aspects of themselves that existed in pre-retirement can enjoy satisfaction and enrichment in retirement. She says, "Often it’s bridging some aspect of that work identity. Often it’s enhancing, developing some non-work aspect of identity that you had. So, one of the most common things we’ve seen is that people will have had an avocation that they enjoyed a pre-retirement, that they get really engaged in much more strongly after retirement.

"And that’s very fulfilling for them, very enjoyable. Sometimes it’s the relationship they had that was important to them – an important part of their identity – and they’re now deepening that engagement, spending more time with that person."

One of the challenges related to identity bridging is how integrated identity is with working for many people. According to Amabile," So much of our identity is almost necessarily wrapped up in our work. So much of our mind space is occupied by our work, that we let other pieces of ourselves atrophy." 

Amabile notes that if people "can maintain some creative activity outside of work, even while they’re fully engaged in their career, that seems to stand them in good stead because that’s something they can grow afterward. That gives them a natural identity bridge."

If you are planning to retire -- or already retired -- maybe you are going through "life restructuring" and "identity bridging." If so, you are not alone.

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The Changing View of Retirement

Think-2177813_1280A revealing new Harris Poll conducted by the firm Age Wave has confirmed substantial shifts in Americans’ perceptions of aging and longevity. The study surveyed over 2,000 U.S. adults, including over 900 adults age 50 plus.

Here are some key takeaways from the survey.
 
“OLD” ISN’T WHAT IT USED TO BE

The survey found that 79% of adults 50+ think today’s older adults are more active, and 58% say they are more open-minded and curious compared with the previous generation.
 
Correspondingly, the definition of what’s considered “old” today is changing. The survey found that while age 60 was considered “old” in their grandparents’ time, now age 80 is the median age considered “old” today.
 
Our vocabulary is starting to reflect this shift. When discussing growing older, 69% of U.S. adults 50+ find the term “longevity” more appealing than “aging.” The positivity felt by older adults is in stark contrast to the bias against them in the media, where they are still frequently portrayed as frail, grumpy, or incoherent. In fact, older adults are seven times more likely to be represented with negative stereotypes in the media.
 
OUR HEALTHSPANS DON’T MATCH OUR LIFESPANS

In recent decades, we have successfully extended our lifespans, but our healthspans (i.e., the years of dependable good health) have not kept up, remaining at an average of 66 years. Americans will spend a median of 12 years living with a disability or serious disease. Looking globally, the U.S. ranks #1 in healthcare expenditures per capita but only #68 in healthy life expectancy.
 
TRADING THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH FOR THE FOUNTAIN OF USEFULNESS

In this new age of aging, the importance of youthfulness has been replaced by usefulness. The survey found that 83% of U.S. adults 65+ say it’s more important for them to feel useful than youthful in their retirement years.Today’s elders increasingly want a continued sense of purpose and meaning in their lives.
 
ANXIETY PLUMMETS, HAPPINESS SOARS WITH AGE

Modern elders feel happier, more free, and less anxiety-ridden than younger generations. Today’s modern elders aren’t just looking back, reminiscing on the good old times. 71% of Americans 65+ say the best time of their lives is right now or in front of them.
 
THE DEFINITION OF “RETIREMENT” IS CHANGING

Today’s modern elders are dismantling long-held cultural beliefs and social norms about how older adults are supposed to look and act. They are eager to pursue new dreams, adventures, and goals, with 97% of adults 65+ agreeing that it’s important to stay curious and be willing to learn new things throughout life’s later years. Similarly, 66% of Americans age 50+ see retirement as a new chapter in life, while only 16% say it’s principally a time for rest and relaxation.
 
With these changing views of what retirement should look like, 59% of pre-retirees and retirees say they want to work in some form in retirement. Employee benefits like flex-work, remote-work, sabbaticals, and paid leave can help retain older workers and fuel economic growth.
 
LIFE LESSONS ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT LEGACY

As famous psychologist Erik Erickson wrote, “I am what survives of me.” The study shows that 65% of adults 50+ think that values and life lessons are the most important thing to pass on to their heirs and loved ones. Only 22% said financial assets and/or real estate were the most important.

Image by Gerd Altman from Pixabay.com

HappilyRewired.com is a Wearever Top 20 Senior Blog and a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog

Check out Books for Boomers!


Covid and Boomers

Pexels-cottonbro-studio-3951600The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended and the FDA  just authorized another Covid booster for adults 65 and over and individuals with weakened immune systems. A recent article in The New York Times cites the following data:

  • Adults age 65 and over make up about 16 percent of the U.S. population (about 53 million people)
  • About 7 million people have weak immune systems
  • Around 250 people daily are still dying from Covid-related causes, the majority of whom are either over 70 years old or have weakened immune systems
  • The median age of those hospitalized for Covid is 75
  • Only 43 percent of Americans age 65 and over have received a bivalent booster shot to date.

As you carry on with your daily life, you may not think Covid is a problem anymore. My personal experience is that I rarely see anyone wearing a mask in stores. I have taken flights recently and noticed that in airports and on airplanes masking is minimal. You hardly ever see, hear or read a story about Covid nowadays. The old saying, "Out of sight, out of mind" seems to apply.

Still, Boomers, particularly those age 65 and over, are the most vulnerable for Covid infection. Some Boomers have weakened immune systems, which makes Covid even more potentially deadly.

Boomers like to think we are the generation that promoted health-consciousness. After all, we were the folks who started the wave of interest in natural and organic foods and called attention to dangerous food additives. We grew up at a time when vaccines protected us from such serious diseases as polio, measles and mumps. Today, vaccines protect Boomers against shingles, pneumonia and influenza.

Why, then, have more than half of Americans age 65 and over failed to get a Covid booster? 

The low percentage of boostered Boomers is a puzzling dilemma for public health officials. While there could be many reasons for this, the implication is clear: Boomers who are unprotected by a Covid vaccine could risk serious illness or death if they contract Covid.

Photo by cottonbro studio: https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-holding-covid-sign-3951600/

HappilyRewired.com is a Wearever Top 20 Senior Blog and a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog

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5 Positive Traits of Boomers

 

Pexels-towfiqu-barbhuiya-9821386 Guest Post by Julie Gorges

Editor's Note: My colleague Julie Gorges writes Baby Boomer Bliss, a blog I highly recommend. She recently posted an article that referred to "5 positive traits of boomers." At a time when there seems to be a fair amount of boomer bashing in various media, I asked Julie for permission to share an excerpt from her article because I think it does a great job of highlighting some of the really good things about the Boomer Generation. Here they are...

1. Boomers are Good at Reinventing Themselves

Not being content to sit in a rocking chair reminiscing about the past after retirement – like some of our parents and grandparents – many boomers are still active, eagerly learning new things, and becoming more creative as they age.

Boomers may not be up on all the latest trends, but they remain young at heart.

Boomers tend to consider themselves a work in progress. Many are making spirituality and personal growth a priority, opening themselves to new experiences (like learning sign language and shark cage diving, in my case), and striving to reach their full potential.

Thanks to boomers, turning 60 or even 70 is no longer a professional death sentence as it was in the past. Many boomers are postponing retirement, both for financial and personal reasons. This has opened the doors for younger generations who, if desired, have a better chance of working as long as they want.

Often boomers are maligned for being technically deficient. However, many boomers have embraced new technologies like texting, videoconferencing, online banking, tablets, tech savvy homes, and social networking sites. A lot has changed, but boomers are enthusiastic about technology that’s valuable to them.

In my opinion, we’ve changed the way people age. And that’s a good thing for upcoming generations.

2. Boomers Value Family Relationships

Personally, I grew up in a traditional family that ate dinner together every night, watched The Wonderful World of Disney every week, attended religious services, and took camping trips together.

As a result, I practiced these same values with my own children and grandchildren. As a reward, we all remain close.

Just proves different generations can get along and even love each other!

3. Boomers Influenced Rock and Roll

As the article, “27 Amazing Things Baby Boomers Have Done for Humanity” points out on their website Mercatornet, the boomer generation changed music forever. “Popular music will never be the same after the 70s. These musicians [Bob Dylan, the Beach Boys, and the Bee Gees] passed on an undying legacy with their lyrics, experimentation and harmonies.”

Of course, the 60s also changed music in a major way, becoming a vehicle for social change.

Brian Ward, a professor in American Studies at Northumbria University wrote in his article for the Gilder Lehrman Institude of Natural History, “What’s That Sound? Teaching the 1960s Through Popular Music: “Even students far too young to have experienced the decade first-hand often recognize a whole range of sounds as evocative of the era. The Motown soul of the Temptations and Marvin Gaye; the folk revivalism of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez; the folk-rock syntheses of the Byrds; the surfing sounds of the Beach Boys; the free jazz of Archie Shepp and Ornette Coleman; the girl-group sounds of the Chiffons and Crystals; the southern-fried soul of Percy Sledge and Otis Redding; the lush Nashville countrypolitanism of  Eddy Arnold and Tammy Wynette; the country-rock blends of the Flying Burrito Brothers; the progressive, psychedelic sounds of the Grateful Dead and the Doors; the self-reflective meditations of singer-songwriters James Taylor and Laura Nyro; the daring blues-rock-jazz blend of Jimi Hendrix; the pioneering funk of James Brown; the garage rock of the Standells and Seeds; and the avant-garde noisescapes of Captain Beefheart and the Velvet Underground.”

I would add The Rolling Stones, Queen, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Eagles, Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac, Eric Clapton, Elton John, and Simon and Garfunkel to the list of classic rock singers and bands that influenced music forever.

Many younger people still listen to these musicians today.

4. Boomers Tend to Work Hard

Boomers typically do not shy away from hard work. Most boomers grew up in well-structured and disciplined households. Boomers were taught to respect their parents and grandparents and do their chores. As a rule, boomers are self-disciplined, highly motivated, and focused on goals in life.

You would think that’s a good thing. But these qualities are often used against us. Boomers are called “workaholics” and a “greedy generation,” perceived as always putting money first. However, growing up in a spiritual family, these were not the values I was personally taught. I’d venture many boomers would say the same.

5. Boomers Want to Give Back

Now, can we talk a little about the blame game? Boomers are seemingly responsible for all that’s gone wrong in the world. In part, due to the size of their generation. By the way, is it my fault that my parents’ generation had a bunch of kids making the population “boom?” (The basis for the name of our generation, baby boomers.)

Good thing we weren’t around for the Great Depression. Somehow, that would be our fault too.

At any rate, baby boomer blaming seems like a way of oversimplifying extremely complex issues.

Although I do not feel personally responsible for every problem in the world today, I do understand the younger generation’s frustrations. For example, many boomers know how difficult it is for younger people who face challenging economic conditions today.

As a result, many parents have been generous with adult children who often need to live at home longer than expected. Some help their children financially even to their own detriment. And many grandparents are helping care for their grandchildren to help adult children save on child care costs.

In addition, boomers tend to look for a mission in life that offers meaning and purpose. Many of us are involved in volunteer work and our community.

Julie Gorges is a blogger, writer and author of non-fiction and fiction books. Check out her blog at https://babyboomerbliss.net

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya at pexels.com

HappilyRewired.com is a Wearever Top 20 Senior Blog and a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog

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How Maria Shriver Wants to Reframe Aging

Screen Shot 2023-02-22 at 4.12.27 PMIn a conversation with Karen Breslau of Bloomberg News at the Century Summit 2022 sponsored by the Longevity Project, Maria Shriver spoke eloquently about the concept of "reframing aging." The 67-year old Shriver is a journalist, best-selling author, entrepreneur, Alzheimer's advocate, film maker and more. The former first lady of California is now part of a task force on aging for Governor Newsom in the state.

With regard to the workplace, says Shriver, "So many industries are stuck in an old model." She observed that there are many people in their 70s, 80s and even 90s who "are at the top of their game," among them architect Frank Gehry and investor Warren Buffett.

Shriver added that people in their 50s and 60s want to keep working but are frustrated because society doesn't look at them as "valuable players." Says Shriver, "I think we need a sea change, a narrative change, a reframing change" and she credits Boomers with driving that change. She believes that workforces are better off when people in their 20s and 30s are working together with people in their 60s and 70s.

Shriver herself is a model for what she believes. She says for the first time in her life, she is free of bringing up children and caring for her elderly parents. She now thinks about where she wants to make a difference -- in aging, longevity and women's health. Interestingly, Shriver is also a model for intergenerational living. She has started a business with one son and says, "I love working with my children. I do a lot of that, and my parents did a lot of that." She says her parents worked up until their 80s.

Another key strategy Shriver has continued from her experience as first lady of California to the present day is putting lots of different people together in the same room -- whether they are different ages, from different walks of life, or with different perspectives. She does it "so people can talk, can share stories and learn a new narrative." Shriver believes in "updating story lines on a continuous basis because people don't hear the new story unless they meet people on the ground who are living that new story."

You can find more of Shriver's comments, as well as recordings of other sessions from the Century Summit 2022, here: https://www.longevity-project.com/century-summit-2022-videos

Image: Maria Shriver speaking at the Century Summit 2022, The Longevity Project, Stanford Center on Longevity

HappilyRewired.com is a Wearever Top 20 Senior Blog and a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog

Check out Books for Boomers!

 


How Serena Williams is Redefining "Retirement"

Pexels-cottonbro-5741051Watching Serena Williams play tennis in the first round of the U.S. Open on Monday night, August 29, was like watching an unstoppable force of nature. The 40-year-old Williams defeated a 27-year-old opponent, not easily but convincingly. Yet earlier in August, in Vogue magazine, Williams shocked the sports world by announcing her retirement from tennis.

Normally, when you hear the word "retirement," you think of the traditional meaning: older generations ending their work lives to move on to something else. But in the case of Serena Williams, she was making a different kind of life choice, announcing to the world that she wanted to grow her family rather than remain in the sport as arguably the best tennis player in the world. Here is the way she expressed it:

"I have never liked the word retirement. It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me. I’ve been thinking of this as a transition, but I want to be sensitive about how I use that word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people. Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is evolution. I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me. A few years ago I quietly started Serena Ventures, a venture capital firm. Soon after that, I started a family. I want to grow that family."

I think her use of the word "evolution" as a label for what Williams is feeling is very appropriate. In fact, it strikes me that the concept of evolution just as easily applies to Boomers on the brink of "retirement." Like Williams, I have never liked the word "retirement." For several years, I have used the word "rewirement" to describe a new way of looking at retirement (after all, "rewired" is in the header of my blog).

I think the concept of rewiring is still relevant, but I also think evolving is an apt description for the collective advancement of Boomers into the next phase of our lives. The reality is that we go through phases that are not hard and fast with defined beginnings and ends; rather we evolve. Recognizing that evolutionary process may make it easier to understand and accept the phases of life that have passed and are still to come.

So thank you, Serena, for redefining retirement. You are showing the world that you can be the best you can be in your career and love what you do -- but still acknowledge that there are indeed other things in life that may be of greater importance. That's something Boomers would do well to acknowledge. Life's challenges and choices are not always easy, but we continue to evolve.

Whether or not she wins the U.S. Open, Serena Williams is teaching all of us a lesson about competing at the highest level -- in both sports and in life.

Photo by cottonbro at pixels.com

HappilyRewired.com is a Wearever Top 20 Senior Blog and a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog

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