On Your Own

Home Sweet Home?

Cristian-newman-CeZypKDceQc-unsplashConsider this scenario: An elderly widow, now approaching 98 years of age, lives alone in a one-bedroom apartment. Despite being hard of hearing, suffering from an increasing loss of short-term memory and depending on supplemental oxygen, she is otherwise in remarkably good health. Fiercely independent, she insists on continuing to live by herself. She can still handle the basic tasks of daily living. Her daughter, who lives nearby, visits regularly to walk her dog, buy groceries, provide socialization and more. Only recently has the widow accepted weekly visits from a home health aide. She is adamant about living independently and resists the notion of entering an assisted living facility.

This type of situation is real. It is playing out all across the nation when older people choose to "age in place." As I wrote in a previous post, according to The Center for Aging in Place, "Aging in Place is a national movement to enable people to stay in their own homes as they grow older by making available the social support, health care, and home maintenance services they require to live happy, productive lives in the community."

In theory, aging in place is a noble concept. In practice, maybe it isn't so great. In the scenario above, the independence the elderly woman perceives she has is simulated. She is housebound, feeble (she has already fallen twice) and largely dependent on her daughter or a caregiver. It is just a matter of time before she will need daily care in her home if she remains there. Entering an assisted living facility may appear to be a more suitable alternative, but such facilities have their shortcomings, which might include high cost and low quality of care.

Many in the Boomer generation seem to embrace the idea of aging in place, but we have to distinguish desire from practicality.  “The vast majority of people want to stay in their homes as they age, and most homes in this country aren’t designed to allow that to happen,” Dr. Rodney Harrell, AARP's VP for Family, Home and Community, tells The New York Times. The Times reports that "AARP recently introduced HomeFit, a free augmented reality app on iOS that can scan a room and suggest improvements to help turn a house into a 'lifelong home,' free from safety and mobility risks. It is an extension of the organization’s extensive HomeFit Guide, which is available online."

Apps and guides are all well and good, but they may obscure the real question: How wise it for an elderly person to age in place? Safety appears to be a key concern: According to The Times, "The website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that for adults 65 years and older, $50 billion is spent annually on medical costs related to nonfatal fall injuries and $754 million is spent related to fatal falls."

The patchwork solutions we currently have in our society for aging in place are less than adequate. If we Boomers choose to age in place, we will likely need to make some significant changes to be able to remain in our "Home Sweet Home."

Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

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Is It Wise for a Boomer to Start a Business Now?

Danielle-macinnes-IuLgi9PWETU-unsplash OnYourOwnIn my previous post, I noted that the number of Boomers who retired in 2020 dramatically increased. I also indicated that pandemic-related job losses, as well as ageism, contributed to many more Boomers leaving the workforce in 2020. These factors suggest that the U.S. job market won't be a particularly good one for Boomers this year.

At the same time, however, the U.S. Census Bureau is reporting a significant uptick in new business applications. For example, for the week ending October 3, 2020 -- while the pandemic continued to rage around the U.S. -- there was an increase in new business applications of 40 percent over the same period in 2019.

It turns out that Boomers play a major role in small business growth. According to Guidant Financial, a firm providing small business financing and a founding member of the Small Business Trends Alliance, "Boomers make up 41 percent of small business or franchise owners, second only to GenX at 44 percent." Even more encouraging, "Seventy-eight percent of boomer businesses are profitable, making them the most profitable age group of small business or franchise owners." Despite the current difficult economic and political environment, Guidant Financial found that 60 percent of Boomer business owners were "somewhat confident" or "very confident" about small business.

So is it wise to start a business now? As a Boomer, you are uniquely positioned to have a strong chance of success. Most Boomers bring a wealth of solid experience, in addition to maturity, to opening their own businesses. Just as important, many Boomers already have the kind of professional network that would serve them well as a "Boomer-preneur." In the marketing world, it is well known that companies who market their products and services during an economic downturn tend to come out of the downturn even stronger. The same could be said about entrepreneurs who start businesses during tough times.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce offers three reasons for starting a business now:

  1. "Bootstrapping know-how" - "When a downturn hits, savvy business owners learn how to bootstrap to survive. ...The bootstrap mentality -- a mixture of frugality, innovation and agility -- can be crucial not only in the startup stage but also as your business grows."
  2. "Business model changes" - "Across all industries, patience, ingenuity and adaptability were the ingredients needed for business survival and these new norms are here to stay. This is good news for startups."
  3. "Time of innovation" - "...smart business owners understand success depends on the ability to adapt to constantly changing consumer needs. Startups have the means to step in where big companies cannot necessarily fill the gaps (think food delivery services). After all, innovation is just problem-solving at its root and who better to problem solve than an entrepreneur bursting with new ideas."

The question of whether or not to start a business demands serious consideration. Obviously there are risks as well as rewards, and not everyone is suited to business ownership. But more than enough evidence exists for Boomers to feel confident that this may actually be an ideal time to start a business.

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

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Pandemic-Induced Thinking About Aging in Place

OnYourOwn Screen Shot 2021-01-18 at 1.15.38 PMAdjusting to the "new normal" of life during a pandemic can make you think about aging in place. Boomers who have been self-isolating or at least largely staying put while COVID-19 rages around them have already experienced what aging in place may feel like. The impact of the pandemic on assisted living and nursing home staff and residents only reinforces the desire of many Boomers to remain in their homes for as long as possible.

Research conducted by AARP suggests that an overwhelming percentage of aging seniors -- more than 90 percent -- want to stay in their current homes as they age. However, there are all kinds of things related to aging in place that should be taken into consideration. Aging in place can have both a positive and negative side when it comes to home safety, for example. On the positive side, wise Boomers are making a concerted effort to modify their existing homes so they are safer, more secure habitats. On the negative side, some Boomers adamantly refuse to make needed modifications if they do not want leave their homes, creating a situation that could easily result in tripping, falling, or severe personal injury.

Another area for serious consideration is caregiving. Aging in place means living independently, but the older you get, the more likely it is that you will need some form of help. According to the National Aging in Place Council, half of all men 65 and older and 60 percent of women will need a high level of personal care at some point. The Council indicates that three-quarters of seniors with long-term care needs live at home, and nearly two-thirds of them receive all of their help from family members and friends. If you need compensated care, more than half of the cost for that care is typically paid out-of-pocket -- unless you have long term care insurance.

While long term care insurance can be expensive, it may be a wise investment that ensures peace of mind for the future by covering assisted living care and services. Long term care insurance policies also may have additional benefits. Age Assured is one innovative example. According to Assured Allies, the provider, Age Assured is "a free, voluntary program for insurance policyholders who want help continuing to live at home while they age, made available through their long term care insurance provider. The program pairs people who want support with an 'Ally'- an experienced aging professional - who learns about their specific needs and coordinates a personalized aging plan. The program includes access to ongoing support from a trained Ally, services at home and support for caregivers. Aging specialists are able to pinpoint what’s needed, starting with the simplest and easiest fixes." 

An increasing number of products and services are rapidly coming to market as America's population grows older. If you're a Boomer who plans on aging in place, be sure to do some research and find out what's available to you. A good place to start is knowing what it costs to grow older. Below is a link to a PDF of a free comprehensive handbook, The Costs of Aging, from the National Aging in Place Council.

Download CostofAgingHandbook

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What Type of Business Should You Start in Rewirement?

Guest Post by Mike Lieberman

Mike-headshot OnYourOwnThe retirement landscape is rapidly changing.

It’s very different now than it was 10 years ago.

One of the main contributors to the change is our life expectancies.

You see your parents and grandparents typically lived 10-15 years after they retired.

Now you might live another 20-30 years. Big difference.

My guess is this might be why you’re looking to rewire instead of retire.

You’re looking to ignite the spark in this next stage of your life.

Did you know that according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, Self-Employment in the U.S., "the self-employment rate among workers 65 and older (who don’t incorporate) is the highest of any age group in America: 15.5%.”

Interested in starting your own online business?

I mean, why not?

Starting an online business in your rewirement can:

  • Ease your transition from your traditional career into rewirement
  • Give you some extra cash to pad your existing savings or fund some of your passions and hobbies.
  • Enable you to donate to your favorite charitable cause
  • Give you structure in your life
  • Help to keep you engaged mentally to stay sharp

The benefits are more than just financial.

Here’s the deal though:

We live in a time where the barrier to entry in starting your own online business has never been lower.

There are many different types of online businesses you can start and choosing can be overwhelming.

You need to create the right mindset and understand which one makes sense for you.

How do you know?

Glad you asked.

It starts with a question.

To save you time Googling the options I spoke to Kevin Lyles, who specializes in assisting Professionals and Executives as they make retirement transitions with the life side of retirement planning.

I asked Kevin, “What’s the first thing you’d ask someone that was thinking of starting a business in retirement?”

He responded with, “What do they want to get out of the business? That will lead to how I could counsel them because there are many possible answers.”

Before we get into the answers, I’d like to discuss why this is a critical question to consider.

You with me?

Why this is a critical question.

Step back for a second and think about your past 20-40 years of your career.

It’s been there out of necessity and it has accounted for a huge chunk of your time.

Now that you’re moving into rewirement, work takes on a new part in your life.

What this means is whatever business you choose must align with how you want to spend your time.

In your first half of life, your career dictated how you spent your time. Now how you spend your time is in your control.

This is why it’s critical to get clear what it is you want to get out of your business and make sure it supports your vision.

Make sense?

How the question can be answered.

Kevin and I discussed five common answers to “What do you want to get out of your business?”

Here they are:

1. The income is needed to survive

If you’ve entered this stage in your life and you need the income from your business to survive, think about continuing with your current job or seeking new employment.

As mentioned earlier, starting a business isn’t going to be smooth sailing and will take time to produce enough income to live off of.

With that being said, if you’re approaching rewirement, it might be a good time to start and build traction to help ease the transition.

2. Extra cash in the wallet

Ideally, you’re set with your retirement financial plan.

If so, your business might put some extra cash in your wallet that affords you the ability to go on that lavish vacation, buy yourself a new toy or whatever it is you want.

When you have the extra cash, you can do so without worry.

3. Building a legacy

Legacy can mean a variety of things such as:

  • Passing the business on to your kids
  • Handing wealth down to future generations
  • Being the example for your kids and grandkids that anything is possible

Leaving such a legacy could be what you want to get out of your business.

4. Solving problems for others

This is one of the common reasons for people to start their own business.

They’re good at doing something and can get paid to help others doing it.

5. Purpose and meaning

With your traditional career behind you, you now have a lot of time to fill everyday.

This is one of the big challenges people are having, Kevin shared with me.

 “If they’ve been working 10-12 hour days for 30-40 years, now they wake up and don’t know what to do with themselves. Having a business can really fill that void and give them some purpose and reason to get up in the morning.”

When you get clear what it is you want to get out of your business it helps to narrow down the choices for you.

It allows you to shift focus to the structure and opportunities that support your vision.

Sound off

Let me know your answer to “What do you want to get out of your business?” and why.

Mike Lieberman is the founder of Retirement Redefinition. He created the site to help you define your retirement lifestyle and start an online business that fits it.

HappilyRewired.com is a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog.

Is It Crazy to Start a Business Now?

OnYourOwn Startup-1018514_1920In my last post, I talked about a potential strategy for getting your life back, and I proposed a three-part plan: Re-enter, Re-evaluate and Re-trench. I believe the three "re's" represent a practical, measured way to emerge from the pandemic with a set course of action.

As part of the "Re-evaluate" phase, you may be considering what your current and future work life should look like. If you have been laid off, you are certainly not alone -- but as a Boomer, you are more vulnerable than most other workers. It should come as no surprise that Boomers face significant age discrimination when it comes to being re-hired by a previous employer or getting a position with a new employer. While it is often a short-sighted strategy, the harsh reality is that employers often opt for younger employees who simply cost less than Boomers, despite our experience and work longevity.

One way to "re-trench" is to start your own business. Even under the best of economic conditions starting a business can be risky, so a legitimate question becomes, "Is it crazy to start a business now?" The answer is not the same for everyone. If you have specialized expertise, business contacts, financial security and an independent spirit, this could be an ideal time to start your own business.

Writing for Entrepreneur, Rick Terrien makes a strong case for older workers to be proactive about their future by launching a 1-person business now. He writes:

"Being proactive allows you to grow your networks and put the building blocks in place to work and contribute as long as you want. For most people, it is easy and inexpensive to launch one-person Limited Liability Companies (LLCs). Creating a professional business shell around yourself gives you an independent  economic platform to experiment with as you test and grow your business model.  

Having your own small-business shell around yourself does not guarantee success, but it does give you access to tools you will need to succeed."

The statistics are both encouraging and daunting. Terrien points out that 25 million of the 32 million businesses in the U.S. are actually 1-person businesses. A study cited in Inc. magazine indicates that a 60-year old who starts a business is three times more likely than a 30-year old to start a successful business. On the other hand, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says 50 percent of small businesses fail in five years.

Terrien is largely optimistic about self-employment for older workers, which he calls an "ageless startup." The numerous benefits he lists include the low cost of planning and launching a 1-person business, pursuing something you are passionate about, working as much or as little as you want, and working from home.

There are lots of information sources available if you are interested in starting a business, including Rick Terrien's book, Ageless Startup: Start a Business at Any Age.

For a little extra encouragement, an eGuide I wrote about starting a 1-person business is available free to Happily Rewired readers until May 31. To get your free eGuide, simply visit https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/177376. Use the code AG100 at checkout and you will be able to download the eGuide in the format of your choice, including EPUB, Mobi (Kindle) or PDF. Be sure to take advantage of this free offer by May 31.

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The Old Fogey Freelancer

OnYourOwn Multi-tasking-2840792_1920When you were growing up, you probably remember the nasty term "old fogey." Some of us may have even used it to deride our elders. Nowadays, you may not hear that specific term much, but its meaning still exists. That's because ageism is alive and well in American society.

Ageism is particularly evident in the workplace. In the March 2020 issue of the AARP Bulletin, CEO Jo Ann Jenkins cited a new AARP study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit that indicated "the U.S. economy missed out on $850 billion in 2018 from the loss of 50-plus workers' contributions." The loss was due to "biases against older workers" and was attributed to a combination of involuntary retirement, under-employment, and unemployment.

American companies certainly don't help matters when they arbitrarily toss out more expensive but more experienced older workers. Meanwhile the current law against age discrimination is empty and virtually unenforceable. It is no surprise, then, that some seniors who want to earn an income turn to menial, low-wage jobs. Others, however, have discovered the benefits of self-employment through freelancing. This is one reason the "gig economy" is a legitimate and growing sector (despite the fact that it has been battered of late by the coronavirus pandemic, just like the rest of the economy).

Generally speaking, as a freelancer, experience (which often equates with age) is an asset, not a liability. Ironically, the same companies that find it expedient to fire older workers seem to be perfectly willing to contract older freelancers. Bonnie Nichols, writing for The Freelancer by Contently, says she began freelancing when she was laid off from a corporate job at age 50. She has applied her journalism background and experience as a corporate communicator to obtain freelance assignments that take advantage of her skills. Nichols writes, "I’ve learned to recognize a good client from a bad one. Over time, I’ve been able to raise my rates. The good ones hire me for my experience, and they’re willing to pay for it."

Nichols admits to facing such challenges as learning about new subjects and wrestling with new technologies such as video conferencing, but these things haven't impeded her ability to get work. In fact, she has had opportunities to return to the traditional workplace since she began freelancing full time in 2014 but she says "I have no desire to return to corporate life. ...My goal for the past two years is to do work I love and give the rest away. So far, I’ve been pretty good at that.

"Freelancing just fits my lifestyle. It allows me the flexibility to take longer vacations with my spouse, be on call for my aging mother, and indulge my hobbies of playing in a band, swing dancing, and volunteering. It’s also the most reliable way to support myself as I head into 60."

Bonnie is just one of scores of mature workers who have leveraged their professional experience into freelance work. Nowadays, freelancing is a viable income opportunity in many fields, not just creative endeavors.

During the coronavirus crisis, freelancing can be an even more attractive option since you can work from home. Maybe this would be a good time for you to consider becoming an "old fogey freelancer."

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On the Side

OnYourOwn Women-4013872_1920There's an interesting work option for the Boomer who has a full-time job but knows it's only a matter of time before that position ends, either by circumstance or by choice. That option is working on the side. In days gone by, it was called "moonlighting," but these days, you hear it referred to in terms such as a "side hustle" or "part-time gig." Whatever you choose to call it, the idea is an intriguing one.

Here's how it works: While remaining employed in another position, you use your own time to research, experiment, and potentially accept work on the side. It goes without saying that the work you take on must not conflict with your regular employment in any way. Especially tricky is the situation in which you may have to communicate with side hustle customers during the work day or, worse, if those customers have any chance of conflicting with your employer's customers. These are two of the larger sticky issues related to side hustles.

But that doesn't mean it isn't possible, and even desirable, to begin working on the side if you're a Boomer. Leslie Hunter-Gadsden, writing about the topic for NextAvenue.org, spoke to some professors who endorsed the idea for those Boomers who are looking to potentially start their own businesses. Professor Phillip Phan of the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School told Hunter-Gadsden, “It’s great to see if there is a market for your business while not depending on it for an income.” Professor David Deeds at the University of St. Thomas said, “You need to really take the time to do your research getting feedback from potential customers.” Northeastern University professor Kimberly A. Eddleston added, "By starting a business before you stop working, you can see what your time commitment will actually be. It will help you to understand what your actual day would look like once you are doing it full-time.”

Another related phenomenon is something called "sidepreneurship." Particularly popular with retirees, this method of side hustling defines those who work fewer than 20 hours per week in their own businesses. A 2019 report by American Express on women-owned businesses, cited by Kerry Hannon in her article about sidepreneurship for NextAvenue.org, indicated that the five-year growth rate for sidepreneurs was more than triple all businesses (32 percent vs. 9 percent). The growth rate for sidepreneur women was especially impressive; for example, among African-American women, sidepreneurs vs. all businesses was 99 percent vs. 50 percent. Professor Eddleston told Hannon, “What likely attracts women to these sidepreneur opportunities is their lack of risk...women...test the waters and see if they like the business before taking the plunge and going full time. ... That means, an older woman who is not ready to fully retire can keep working as a sidepreneur."

Starting a business is not the only reason to engage in side hustles. In fact, it is not uncommon nowadays for workers to take on freelance or contract work outside of the constraints of their daily job simply to earn extra income. ZenBusiness reports, "A recent study from Payoneer revealed that the average hourly rate of gig workers is $19 an hour–more than double the national minimum wage in the U.S.–making a side hustle a helpful choice for those in a financial bind." ZenBusiness goes on to discuss both the side hustler who works on the side while employed elsewhere, and the "serial side hustler," who hustles full-time. Check out their helpful guide for serial side hustlers here: https://www.zenbusiness.com/blog/serial-side-hustler/

Full-time employment may be the best option for you. Still, you may find that working on the side can pay off in many ways, especially as you age.

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Retiring Begins by Answering the Right Questions

OnYourOwn Man-1348082_1920It goes without saying that retirement is a significant life change. Equally obvious is the fact that many Boomers deny the reality of retirement, working as long as they are able. But at some point, most of us realize that maintaining the same pace is an impossibility and, at the very least, we accept the need to transition to something different. That something may not look like traditional retirement at all, but chances are it doesn't look like our previous career-focused lifestyle either.

There are so many questions surrounding retirement -- the next phase, reinvention, second act, or however you define it -- that it can be bewildering just to know the right questions to ask. Writing for The Balance, senior financial planner Scott Spann seems to have identified five of the most important questions to answer:

  1. What do you look forward to doing the most in retirement?
  2. How long do you need your money to last?
  3. How much retirement savings will you actually need?
  4. How much should you be saving today?
  5. How much can you afford to spend yearly once retired?

As you can see, the first question is really qualitative while the next four are quantitative. Spann offers some wise commentary about how to answer each of these questions, so the article is worth reading here: https://www.thebalance.com/five-important-retirement-questions-you-need-to-answer-4025465?

None of the questions are necessarily easy to answer; in fact, all of them probably require a great deal of thought, some serious self-reflection, conversations with your significant other, and counsel with a financial adviser. But contemplating retirement without adequately answering these questions is fraught with risk. If you've had a successful life, you know by now that planning ahead is an essential part of building a secure future. It should be no different with retirement: First ask the right questions -- and then be sure you answer them to the best of your ability.

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There are Creative Living Alternatives for Boomers

OnYourOwn Pensioners-3347948_1920As Boomers age, they may find themselves facing the necessity to change where they live. A good percentage of Boomers claim they want to "age in place," but that isn't always the best or most practical choice. Still, as I've written about in the past, Boomers interested in staying in their current home may be able to do so if they make intelligent modifications to remain safe and secure.

Some Boomers realize, though, that aging in place can be stressful. This is particularly true of individuals who, by circumstance or choice, are living by themselves. At the very least, these folks may need to consider downsizing, if not relocating into a more age-friendly residence. Apartments or condominiums rather than private homes may be attractive options.

Not surprisingly, more and more creative living alternatives are becoming available for Boomers. For some time now, Boomers have been able to take advantage of adult communities. More of them seem to open every day. Whether they're labeled "active adult" (55-plus) or retirement communities, these communities often provide a range of amenities and activities, sometimes including meal service, housekeeping and transportation. Some communities feature rentals while others require property purchase. At the high end, "continuing care" retirement communities may provide a full continuum of care when it is needed, from independent living through assisted living through on-site nursing facilities.

Two of the more novel living alternatives fall somewhere between living independently and being part of a social network:

Cooperative housing

This concept involves a property in which residents share certain responsibilities. A good example is Phoenix Commons in Oakland, California. Here's how Phoenix Commons describes their environment:

"Cohousing is an intentional community of private homes clustered around shared space. Each single family home has traditional amenities, including a private kitchen, while shared spaces may include a large kitchen and dining area, laundry and recreational spaces.

"Cohousing communities are built around separate homes in proximity, with a common house, or in a single structure with a lot of shared common space to complement individual condominium units. Householders in cohousing have independent lives but neighbors collaboratively plan and manage community activities and shared spaces, typically under the structure of a Homeowners’ Association.

"Cohousing groups seek to balance private and community needs while building mutually supportive relationships among their members. Social events, impromptu gatherings, shared meals and scheduled meetings provide ample opportunity for interactions. At Phoenix Commons important community decisions are made using participatory processes that help bring the group toward consensus."


Another creative lifestyle alternative is homesharing, which you might consider cohousing on a much smaller scale. A good example is Silvernest, a homesharing platform. Here's how Silvernest describes homesharing and their service:

"Homesharing is exactly what it sounds like: sharing a home. Silvernest enables homeowners to rent out a room or portion of their home to a qualified housemate (in other words, a renter) of their choosing. The many benefits of homesharing include extra income, companionship, the ability to stay in your home longer, the security of cohabiting, and even help around the house. Silvernest homeowners can offer reduced rent in exchange for home maintenance, cleaning and other around-the house help from their renter.

"Silvernest is a one-stop-shop online homesharing platform that pairs boomers, retirees, empty nesters and other older adults with compatible housemates for long-term rent arrangements. Through these creative living situations, homeowners earn extra income (about $10,000 a year), remain in their homes longer, and keep isolation at bay, while renters pay far less than market rent. Both enjoy companionship and the efficiencies that come with sharing a space."

Cooperative housing and homesharing may not be for everyone, but they are emerging creative ideas addressing the reality that Boomers may need living alternatives other than the traditional ones.

HappilyRewired.com is a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog.

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The Big Three Retirement Changes

OnYourOwnMake sure you read the articles in a special retirement section that appeared in The New York Times on September 12, 2019. In one of those articles, Kerry Hannon writes about three significant changes that take place in retirement, as explained by Ken Dychtwald, retirement expert and founder of AgeWave. These are indeed "The Big Three"...

  1. Identity
  2. Relationships
  3. Activity

I'd like to address each individually, both from Dychtwald's perspective and filtering in my own experience.


According to Dychtwald, "Our identity has been forged and tweaked and shaped by our work life.” Particularly with professionals, their identities are intertwined with their careers. Imagine an engineer, a software developer, a professor, an attorney, or a physician whose lifelong work has consumed much of his or her time. Imagine a senior manager or CEO who has devoted decades to leading an organization. The shift away from this full-time role, whether it's voluntary or not, is a personal loss of professional identity that should not be underestimated.

My identity was defined by the fact that I was a marketing professional, in large part because I started and ran a direct marketing agency for twenty years. I made the "identity transition" prior to my early retirement by selling that firm to a larger agency and accepting a new role for a short period of time. That helped modify my self-perception. I then started a small business with my wife. When we sold that business, I became a marketing consultant and then a freelance writer. My perception of my identity remains, however: I still at least partially define myself by what I do professionally as a writer -- although now I view it as more of an avocation.


At the top of the change list, says Dychtwald, is relationships. In retirement, people miss the relationships they forged as part of their careers. While some work friendships transcend the workplace, retirees may end the relationships they had with coworkers, resulting in a real sense of loss. Other relationships could fray as well, especially if retirement includes a relocation. Moving away from long-time friends can be disconcerting. In addition, it isn't uncommon for marital relationships to suffer or be redefined due to retirement.

I was fortunate in that I could continue some work relationships through freelance writing after leaving full-time employment. I also built new work relationships via volunteering as a consultant and at a non-profit organization. By starting a business together, my wife and I were able to enter a "pre-retirement" phase and share a common business interest. This helped strengthen our relationship (although not every couple is able to successfully work together). 


Dychtwald observes, “Most of us, until our retirement day, have lived our lives in a structured lifestyle. You retire, and all of that is dissolved." How true this is! One of the more challenging aspects of retirement, even if it is a partial retirement, is the fundamental change of schedule. The busy workday calendar -- with its meetings, deadlines and obligations -- is gone. Remarkably, there is now time to do the laundry and the shopping, which requires a whole different kind of scheduling. For some, this is a breath of fresh air; for others, it can become an affliction if they face the frightening thought, "What am I going to do today?"

I believe the best way to cope with this is to keep busy, creating a post-work retirement that has its own structure and is designed around each person's unique requirements. For some, that may be a mix of part-time work, volunteering, and recreation. For others, it may mean taking courses, playing tennis, or traveling. Personally, I think it is less important what each person is doing than it is to feel that you are getting satisfaction from your activities and are vital and engaged in life.

HappilyRewired.com is a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog.

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