The old retirement concept is no more.
I know to say that this is not the end, it’s the beginning is a terrible cliché. But when it comes to retirement, really, what can be said. Webster’s Dictionary (I know, more clichés – bare with me) defines retirement as “withdrawal from one’s position or occupation or from active working life”. In terms of where we are in today’s reality, that’s not a bad definition because it allows for that openness that has become so important with how people treat retirement. As much as it’s losing popularity, people do still retire. They reach a point in their careers when it’s time for a change.
It used to be that retirement was a much more definitive concept. Some looked at it as a good thing, escaping the pressures and burden of professional life. Others saw it as the beginning of a much more inactive life, filled with boredom and aimlessness. There are still some that view retirement in these terms, either as that light at the end of the tunnel or a terrifying end of the line. However, how things have changed is that retirement is no longer permanent. We have seen the idea of the semi-retirement or working retirement be incredibly embraced by the boomer professionals. It has now become something they themselves can shape.
Where once there were rigid lines between career and retirement, now those lines have become very blurred, much to the delight of not only the professionals, but businesses as well. When someone retires, it no longer means the end of anything. In fact, it opens up a lot more possibilities. We see ‘retirees’ continue working at reduced hours. We see them start them working part-time in new careers just to change things up. We see them start their own businesses to follow long-held passions. Regardless of what fears may have existed before, retirement now represents a time of opportunity for professionals.
As we often acknowledge, there is no way we can discuss the growing popularity of working retirement without addressing the financial aspects involved. It would be ignorant to represent retirement simply as this wonderful way to follow your dreams. In reality, there are many people working through retirement who have no choice. The financial needs of retiring today means that for many, extra income during retirement is needed. But this again shows a level of opportunity for retirees that didn’t exist before. Not so many years ago, the circumstances would be that if you didn’t have the necessary savings, retirement was put off indefinitely. Or perhaps even more worrisome, retirement came and you would have to make due with the savings you had. Now professionals can reduce their work hours and still manage to live comfortably. It might not be the ideal retirement for some, but in the new reality of the working retirement, there are at least options.
It’s not just that boomers have discovered this freedom of working longer and pushing back full retirement, it’s that there is an actually need for them in the modern workforce. More and more businesses are recognizing the value and, in some cases, the necessity of having experienced, proven professionals on their team. That’s not to say that every boomer who wants to find a part-time job will be met with open arms and be immediately hired, but the stigma against hiring older workers is beginning to disappear.
Retirement still holds a lot of uncertainties and remains a very big step in one’s life that requires a lot of reflection. But, in an attempt to maintain a strong and meaningful future for themselves, boomers have changed retirement from being closed off to being wide-open.