Discovering your dream plan and defining the next chapter of your life.

Born between 1946 and 1966, the boomer generation is beginning to enter what was previously referred to as the ‘retirement age’ .The first boomers turned 60 in 2006 and many people between 50 and 60 are now starting to question their next life stage. The world has changed and many of the dreams and plans that this generation may have made need to be reassessed. A small percentage have prepared financially and saved conscientiously all their working lives, a much higher percentage have changed jobs, been retrenched, downsized and lost their dreams along the way. Rarely did any of them imagine that they would be single or in second marriages in this stage of their lives, and certainly did not plan to face those circumstances. Many do not want to retire like their parents. They have watched as their parents walked through retirement, unhappy, lacking purpose and slowly dying while still living. This is a major fear for many in the boomer generation.

Many in this generation have just helped their children with planning their first phase of life after school. In helping these children, questions like what is it that you want to do with your life, what industry would you like to work in, who do you want to marry and where do you want to live? Many of these similar types of questions need to be addressed for the 50 year old. Finances are not the only factor although it certainly is important and can make an enormous difference to the choices you will have at this point. If you can see your next stage more like a career change than retirement, it may engage you more fully to see the BIG PICTURE and deal with the broad range of factors affecting your future.

Meryl Lynch in collaboration with Age Wave conducted a survey called “The New Retirement” in 2005. This survey was looking at the factors that could affect some of the changes we all need to be aware of. 81% of boomers expect to work past 65 but 56% want to change jobs.

The trend will be cycles between periods of work and leisure and creating a new model of retirement. This trend will have major impacts on retirement, work, recreation, marriage, family, healthcare, housing and the economy. They will reject a life of either full time work or full time leisure. The unpredictable cost of healthcare is one of the greatest fears of this generation. The boomer women will also have more freedom and education than any previous generation reaching this life stage.

Professor Johnson from Retirement Options states that “retirement is a new beginning, the start of a new life journey of vastly expanded proportion.” We need to prepare for this, if we are to enjoy this phase with maximum benefit. Planning and understanding the world we are moving into is critical- otherwise we will miss the opportunities that are presenting themselves.

As with any other major plan or goal in life we need to think through many factors to ensure the best results. Between the ages of about 45 and 50 we need to assess and start asking questions to help us discover the road ahead. We then need to re-look at the picture every five years to ensure that the plan is still on track and going in the right direction. The world is changing at such a rate that we cannot assume that plans do not need to be readdressed or tweaked along the way. Some of the questions you will need to answer are:
1. What is your passion?
2. What is your purpose?
3. What will replace the stimulation of your work?
4. What is your new role at home?

There are many answers to these questions and the dynamics will be different for every individual or couple. Some of the other factors that we need to look at are: attitude towards retirement, health perception, finances, current and projected life satisfaction, life meaning, leisure interests, dependents, relationship and family issues.
This type of introspection takes time, guidance and direction. There are tools available and mentors and coaches that can help with these processes. (At TomorrowWisdom we offer these services. See for more details).

The world is going to offer more opportunities of contract work, volunteering, sabbaticals, virtual offices (enabling work from any place at any time) and many other new scenarios. We need to build these into our plans for the future. We need to look at our own personal growth, how we can give back to society and what opportunities for work will exist that will drive our passion.

Boomers expect to live much longer than their parents. In 1900 the average age of death was 47. Today it is 74 for men and at least 80 for women. Finance and Life planning will be critical for success. Many individuals have focused on the financial side only and not realized how important the Life Planning is. We can have all the money in the world and still be unhappy. Discovering your purpose, driving your passion and making a difference will be critical for success. The challenge is to start planning now to ensure success.