Boomers redefine retirement with philanthropy

An article in the National Post this week reports that Boomers are defining retirement by creating new, purpose-driven careers for themselves, rather than quietly going off into the sunset.

The article cites a new study by the Center for Work-Life Policy,  which reports that the majority of working Boomers (approximately 62 percent) expect to stay in the labor force for at least another nine years. This means that through 2020, 80 percent of the native-born workforce growth in North America will be from employees over age 50.

Additionally, many of these Boomers as they enter the dusk of their careers are choosing positions where they can find greater purpose which can at times can also mean swapping higher salaries for purpose.  The Princeton Survey Research Associates reports that 50% of Americans ages 50-70 want to find work that has social impact after their primary career ends. Further, more than 8 million Americans ages 44-70 have already launched “encore careers,” jobs that combine income with personal meaning and social good, according to a 2008 MetLife Foundation and Civic Ventures. The article quotes Tina DiVito, director of retirement strategies for BMO Financial Group, as noting that Boomers use retirement to pursue their talents, and do what they love versus merely earning a living.

The good news is that there’s a huge demand for boomer retirees who have expertise to share, particularly in the nonprofit sector. As Bridgespan reports a deficit of more than half a million managers in the next decade. Some corporations, such as Hewlett-Packard, have developed a pilot program to help employees over the age of 50 transition from the corporate world into careers in the nonprofit sector.

The article concludes by quoting  Dr. Richard Johnson, a career expert, writing in Boomers’ Next Step,  “a fundamental shift in our perception of second-half of life living is currently reshaping our thinking about the maturation, personal effectiveness, worthwhile endeavors, and deep soul meaning of this new more mature stage of life. All of our former assumptions about life’s second half are fading into obsolescence as a new day dawns on what it means to be living optimally. The worn-out search for redundant relaxation in the maturing years is being eclipsed by search for deepened relevancy. We now know that idle busyness is deadly, that endless rest is deforming not transforming, and that play can only be truly enjoyed if it’s balanced by something worthwhile to live for.”

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