Everyone has a story, it’s compiled by the paths we take and the decisions we make throughout our lives. Whether you’ve struggled your way to the top while fighting and overcoming a series of obstacles, or taken an easier more direct path to get where you are, your story is deeply rooted into every fiber of your being. I took to the street this past week to interview baby boomers about their stories, analyzing their past and looking ahead towards their future – I was quite surprised to hear what a lot of them had to say.
Betty is just starting her retirement. Having been a teacher for 25 years she’s looking forward to putting away the chalk and picking up the traveler’s guide to exotic destinations. Like many boomers entering their first retirement, Betty’s mind is on leisure and relaxation, but not on stopping completely. “I’m considering doing some volunteer work too,” she says with a grin, “Adult learning or ESL, something where I can continue to teach and help people, but on my own time.”
Her friend Fran couldn’t be of a more different mindset. She’s worked at the same company for over 23 years now, currently in the managing consumer education and information department, and couldn’t be more happy, “Oh, I’d count them among the best employers!” She boasts. “I’ve had a very good experience there, I’ve been able to move jobs, expand and learn and I find the job I’m doing right now very interesting!” Fran educates companions to the elderly on how to take optimum care of their clients, and in addition to this, she educates the community about aspects of aging and elder care.
“How long do you plan on staying?” I asked. Fran laughs and tells me she’s not planning to stop. “I don’t have any ideas about retiring. I know 65 is the typical (age), but I don’t have any plans to necessarily do that. There’s a lot of people I work with that have been there for a great many years and they don’t have any plans about retiring either. “
“So what keeps you?” I pried a little deeper. “Well there’s just so much going on!” Fran replies, “It’s an exciting place to work, it’s always evolving and changing. You don’t want to be doing the same thing for 23 years, you want to expand and learn, meet new people and explore other opportunities. They give you the chance to take a risk, and don’t come down on you if it doesn’t work out.”
Fran, Betty and I continued to chat a bit longer, then we parted ways. The more boomers I talk to, the more the pattern seems to become clear that many aren’t slowing down with age. Volunteer work, paid or unpaid seems to be among the frequent replies I get of new retirees, and part-time or mobile second career paths are spreading like wildfire among the already retired. So whatever your story, know that it doesn’t end here. 65 is only the beginning of the next wonderful chapter of life.
Barbara Jaworski is Canada’s leading expert on boomers, chief KAA-Boomer of the Workplace Institute and author of Rebel Retirement – A KAA-Boomer’s Guide to Creating and Living an Explosive Second Act. You can find out more at http://www.KAA-Boom.com