Wouldn’t you know it? Those Boomers who shocked their parents with long hair and protesting the Vietnam War are shaking up traditions again.
Now as they start to retire, they–as usual–are not following in the footsteps of their parents.
Many UW-Madison faculty and staff in their 50s and 60s fit in this category. While some look forward to their lives after their current jobs, many are eschewing the traditional retirement filled with relaxing hobbies, according to John Nelson, a former UW-Madison doctoral student who wrote the best-seller, “What Color Is Your Parachute? for Retirement.”
For these Boomers, retirement means finding fresh ways to remain excited about their existing careers … or starting a completely different career. Beyond a paycheck, the trend for Boomers, Nelson explained, “seems to be looking for a sense of enjoyment and engagement in work and life.”
Nelson, who will lead a UW-Madison Continuing Studies retreat called “Retirement Happiness: Planning Your Next Stage of Life” on Sept. 13 and 14, said, “Instead of retiring from something, people want to retire to something. The surest way to do that is to uncover your natural gifts and passions and include those in your plan.”
How do you re-discover your natural gifts and design a plan for your years after 65?
Nelson cited these tips to help people get thinking about what they want in retirement:
- Reject the idea of automatically retiring to a life of leisure at the traditional retirement age. Instead, look at your unique finances, health, and desire for ongoing engagement. Then come up with your own timetable for change.
- Recognize that your life transitions include changes in your social networks. These social factors are some of the biggest drivers for happiness, so don’t underestimate their impact.
- Reflect on your deepest values to set your new direction. In retirement, what will motivate you to get out of bed each morning?
- Remember that even if you’re tired of your job, some parts of it likely provide you with a positive challenge. You’ll be delighted to leave some tasks behind—but you’ll also miss parts that make you feel accomplished.
- Reconnect with your greatest skills and strengths. When you consider what you do best, and what gives you the greatest sense of fulfillment, you’re on the right path.
Whichever path you choose—traditional or the new Boomer-style—you need to create a life of meaning and purpose, Nelson said.
Which path will you take?