Denver has more baby boomers per capita than any other major U.S. city. Most are anxiously planning their financial future and the “who, what and where” of how they’ll spend their “Third Act” or “Encore.” As we recovered from the financial crisis, many delayed their retirement, but reality looms around the corner. At some point, most boomers want and need to slow down a bit and move away from high-pressured careers.
Study after study shows that this is a big challenge for this population, who are a generation of “nose-to-the-grindstone professionals,” raised by the Silent Generation that taught us to “pay our dues.” We derive most of our identity from our jobs, so the thought of not hitting that deadline or getting that bonus is met with trepidation and resistance.
To create even more challenge, the majority of boomers’ parents did not provided a good model for an engaged retirement. Our fathers worked at their companies for 40+ years, got the gold watch and went to play a bit of golf. Our mom’s experienced empty nest syndrome and then immersed themselves in being a great grandparent.
The golf and grandkids sound great but what else will help us thrive and grow during this next chapter? An important Harvard Study (http://tinyurl.com/l5tpwcq) found four success factors for the 800+ men they studied who reported they were fulfilled during this period of their lives:
- Replace work mates. Find other social networks to meet your needs. If you’ve derived a lot of pleasure from your team, either as a leader or a member, you are not suddenly going to become an introvert. With what groups of people can you consistently engage to provide this interaction?
- Rediscover how to play. It’s that golf thing or bridge or becoming an avid cyclist. This sounds like a no-brainer, but most of us have squeezed leisure activities into our lives and often feel guilty for partaking. Get over it. Learn to enjoy yourself, often and with passion.
- Bring some creativity into your life. This doesn’t mean suddenly taking up painting, writing or singing, but it might mean creating a project that will survive after you, your legacy. Perhaps it’s a literacy program at a school with at-risk kids or a public art project in your neighborhood.
- Continue lifelong learning. The old adage “use it or lose it” applies here. Many boomers are relearning the foreign language they first learned in high school. Some are schooling themselves in social media and the latest tablet technology so they can communicate with their grandkids. Get on the bus or be left behind. Many universities let older adults audit classes for free.
AARP research shows that the most common “Third Acts” for boomers are:
- Working part time
- Consulting for their former company
- Becoming an entrepreneur
- Becoming a realtor
- Returning to college
- Staggering their retirement with their spouse.
Overwhelmed? The most important thing is to plan ahead. Face the fact that preparing for this stage of life is more than just financial planning. Need help? Hire a coach.