“Every generation needs a new revolution.”
It should come as no surprise that large numbers of Baby Boomers are bucking tradition and not willing to accept the prescribed life that the “Traditionalists” carved out in the 1950’s. (Remember our favorite motto? “Hell no, we won’t go!”) Several recent surveys show that Baby Boomers are not ready to stop work and that they believe there is another big thing that is still calling them.
Several factors have shaped this new reality. First, our life expectancy has skyrocketed. In 1915 it was 50 years old, in 1980 it was 75 and now a large percentage of us will live into our 90’s. Second, the recession and the nature of work has radically changed. Some people either can’t afford to retire or realize that they have another 20 plus years of active engagement left in them.
LATEST SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH
There are two powerful ground breaking books that really speak to this new reality.
Mark Walton, in his new book, “Boundless Potential” captures about seven years of research in the area of brain science, psychology, sociology, creativity and happiness. His three core discoveries: 1) We (Baby Boomers) are hard wired for reinvention and emerging brain power in the second half of life; 2) A growing number of boomers are learning to leverage their experience and wisdom into profitable new careers and businesses that can impact our world; 3) Longevity experts report that meaningful and purposeful work can pay back in terms of long term health and happiness. Check out this Youtube video about Walton’s book:
Another book by Marc Freedman (founder of Encore.org) “THE BIG SHIFT- Navigating the New Stage Beyond Mid Life” also lays out some reasons why retirement as we have known it for the last 50 years really does not work for this generation. Here is the link to an excerpt of his book here.
LET’S MAKE THE SHIFT
What really moved me about “The Big Shift” was Freedman’s call to action to create an “Encore Stage of Life” characterized by purpose, contribution and commitment. Marc said, “We believe that this changing notion of aging in America offers the prospect of the ‘experience dividend’ of staggering proportions. Never before have so many Americans had so much experience- with so much time and interest in using it”. He calls for a SHIFT in thinking about the real potential for this over-50 Baby Boomer generation. This also means a SHIFT in society norms, institutions, public policies, programs and perceptions! It starts with how we see ourselves in this new stage of life.
I challenge you to read these books (or summaries) and get excited about the possibilities and opportunities that our society and Baby Boomers have to recreate for this next stage of life!
In one of his chapters, Walton cites a long history of famous men and women over the age of 60 who have proven the theory that our brain actually is wired for advanced emotional intelligence, and enhanced creativity. I leave you today with a great example: 88 year old, Hazel McCallion, who started her Encore Career at 57 as Mayor of Mississauga 31 years ago!
(Hazel playing hockey)
Bottom line…We are NOT ready to retire, but ready to Re-Fire! Boomers still have a lot to offer in this second half.
Let’s start the Encore Movement!
How will we as a nation, as a community, make it easier for the largest, best educated, longest living generation to create a better world for the generations to follow? What are your reactions or thoughts?