In 2011, the first of
the Baby Boomer generation reached what used to be known as retirement age. Between
8,000-10,000 baby boomers will be turning 65 every day for the next eighteen
years. Rumor has it over half the Baby Boomers in America are going to
celebrate their 100th birthday and beyond. The social and economic impact of this data
makes me seriously question whether 65 will really be the magic retirement
number for Boomers.
Case in point — my
husband. Jim is turning 65 next
May. He has headed up our market
research firm for the past 35 years, conducting survey research for political
campaigns, environmental initiatives, and corporate clients. This business provided well for our family up
until the 2008 recession hit. Our
previously steady clientele virtually became non-existent over the past few
years. It was a shock to our wallets and
our spirits to witness how rapidly our business dwindled.
But, we are Boomers
after all, and Boomers have resilience built into our very DNA. Jim decided to completely change
careers. Within a few months, he has
gone from being a Ph.D. expert in the field of communication and survey
research, to being the owner of a property management franchise. He is now managing a staff of five and
learning an entirely new industry. He
has no illusions about retiring next May nor does he want to. The past four years have been a struggle, as has
been the case for many families. Jim has
reinvented himself at 64. He loves being
productive and the mental stimulation of learning a new field.
Harvard economist, Edward
Glaeser suggested in a recent New York Times article that, “Retirement seems
out of the question for increasing numbers of Americans who are saddled with
debt and whose savings evaporated during the recent bust.” This description applies to a lot of people
in our generation. But all does not have
to be bleak and scary. If we are going
to live to be a hopefully healthy 100, let’s try something new.
Entrepreneurship is exploding in areas like West Palm Beach, which have
historically been retirement communities.
So come on, this is your chance to try out that business concept you’ve
thought about for years…. This is not your mother (or father’s) version of
retirement. It’s all yours to define.