Everyone has a story. Who you are, the city you grew up in, your first job, first love, marriage, kids – these are just some of the unique milestones that make us up as people, and no two stories are the quite the same. 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.
Pam T. was a stay at home mom that could never sit still. “I always dabbled in something,” she says with a laugh, her voice dropping to a more serious tone when she begins to explain the severity of the separation and eventual divorce that followed with her first husband. When the dust cleared, Pam emerged on a new life path that headed out into the workforce, spending the next eight years of her life selling advertising for a group of small magazines.
“Then I met somebody,” the smile returns to her face, “Moved in with him, and we decided that I wouldn’t work anymore, I really didn’t need to. But I found that I wasn’t being stimulated enough and I really needed to get out there and do something again. ”
As with many boomers re-entering the workforce, Pam’s reintroduction went at a much slower pace than before. Having already spent a great number of years working full time, both as a mom and as an advertising consultant, she knew what she wanted and wasn’t really in a rush to work for just anyone. Her son however, a budding entrepreneur, asked if she’d be interested in helping him out with some customer-service and sales oriented work a couple days a week for a few months out of the year. Pam agreed, and to her surprise she really started to enjoy it.
“I did that for about three years,” she laughs, “now I pretty much do that all year round – except when I go to Florida for six weeks in the summer.” She went on to say how much convenience and flexibility working part time could provide, “If I need a Friday off, no problem. I’ll just work the Wednesday-Thursday instead.” She’s much happier working for her son than ‘some other employer out there’ and has finally found the healthy work-life balance that she’d been seeking in her second act of life.
“So what about retirement?” I asked, “How long are you planning to continue to working for your son?”
“I don’t know,” she replies, a soft smile playing on her lips, “I’m not quite a senior-citizen yet. I know he’ll keep me as long as I will stay. I’ll just take it one year at a time and figure it out from there. I’m really lucky that things worked out the way that they did and having the extra money coming in isn’t so bad either.”
I thanked her for her time and wished her luck as we waved goodbye. Another success story and another great example about how baby-boomers more and more are saying no to retirement, and yes to reinvention. Whether it’s part time, phased retirement, volunteer work or a new career path entirely, boomers everywhere are putting their foot down and saying, “We’re not ready to retire, we want to work.”
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