Yes. Well, no. Well, maybe. But not completely.
OK. So retiring is a big decision. But, what is it exactly?
According to The Australian Pocket Oxford Dictionary, to retire is “to leave office or employment, especially because of age”. I guess ultimately, that’s what we all aspire to – not working. Or is it?
If we simply look at the candidates for the U.S. Presidential election we would notice that the youngest candidate is 44 years of age and the oldest, Bernie Saunders, 72, with Hilary Clinton at 67 and Donald Trump at 69. In Australia, our current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is 60, his predecessor Tony Abbott, 57, and his predecessor, Kevin Rudd, 58. Whilst Julia Gillard is an active and youthful 54 – the same as U.S. President Obama.
Whilst we may not aspire to the lofty heights of leading a country, I’d suggest that this does provide us with inspiration for our own attitudes towards working – beyond 60.
Is it easy to get a job at 45 or 50+? No.
Does it require perseverance? Yes.
Does it require us to rethink what work may suit us? Probably.
This is one story of inspiration of someone that started her own business after a life in the corporate world.
The thing is, there’s good news …
In a 2005 survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, over 75% of the population between 50-64 years of age stated that their health was either good, very good, or excellent which means that we have a relatively, healthy ageing population. Whilst we all perhaps aspire to more travel, more leisure, more opportunities to be involved with the community via voluntary activities, and more time to pursue our hobbies and interests I suggest that doesn’t suit everyone and it may not fill our week.
As Susan Ryan recently stated in the Sydney Morning Herald: “Health experts constantly remind us that the working older person is healthier than the non-working older person, and happier.” Dr Karen Hitchcock, author of the bestselling Quarterly Essay, ‘Dear Life: On caring for the elderly’, provided a warning at the Byron Bay Writers Festival earlier this year against age stereotypes. Karen suggested that rather than depicting the ageing population as a burden and problem, society needs to embrace this valuable part of our community who are largely happy.
Of course working may not mean paid work.
At the Sydney Writers Festival earlier this year I was prompted to ask Hugh Mackay, a social researcher, about his view of the impact of the baby boomers in the coming years. His reply? He suggested that baby boomers historically have been game changers in a wide range of areas, including the workplace. He foresees that this will continue to be the case – particularly in the area of voluntary work where he humorously painted an image of large queues of baby boomers, extending for blocks, waiting to apply for voluntary positions.
Given we are all living longer and healthier lives, and with telecommuting and flexible work practices more common, how will we retire? Will it really be all about holidays and leisure or will we increasingly seek to incorporate some paid work into our “retirement”?
Will Baby Boomers change the definition of retirement in The Australian Pocket Oxford Dictionary?
I think we can. Do you?
What will you do when you retire? Will you work? Full time? Part time? Paid? Unpaid? I’d love to hear.