Tag Archives: retirement

This is Not Your Mother’s Retirement

23 Oct

In 2001, the first of the Baby Boomer generation reached what used to be known as retirement age. Between 8,000-10,000 baby boomers will be turning 65 every day for the next eighteen years. Rumor has it over half the Baby Boomers in America are going to celebrate their 100th birthday and beyond.  The social and economic impact of this data makes me seriously question whether 65 will really be the magic retirement number for Boomers.

 Case in point — my husband.  Jim is turning 65 next May.  He has headed up our market research firm for the past 35 years, conducting survey research for political campaigns, environmental initiatives, and corporate clients.  This business provided well for our family up until the 2008 recession hit.    Our previously steady clientele virtually became non-existent over the past few years.  It was a shock to our wallets and our spirits to witness how rapidly our business dwindled.

 But, we are Boomers after all, and Boomers have resilience built into our very DNA.  Jim decided to completely change careers.  Within a few months, he has gone from being a Ph.D. expert in the field of communication and survey research, to being the owner of a property management franchise.  He is now managing a staff of five and learning an entirely new industry.  He has no illusions about retiring next May nor does he want to.  The past four years have been a struggle, as has been the case for many families.  Jim has reinvented himself at 64.  He loves being productive and the mental stimulation of learning a new field.Harvard economist, Edward Glaeser suggested in a recent New York Times article that, “Retirement seems out of the question for increasing numbers of Americans who are saddled with debt and whose savings evaporated during the recent bust.”  This description applies to a lot of people in our generation.  But all does not have to be bleak and scary.  If we are going to live to be a hopefully healthy 100, let’s try something new. Entrepreneurship is exploding in areas like West Palm Beach, which have historically been retirement communities.  So come on, this is your chance to try out that business concept you’ve thought about for years…. This is not your mother (or father’s) version of retirement.  It’s all yours to define.

Jim Kitchens


Say Hello Not Goodbye to Your Golden Years

23 May

BoomerOpinions survey results released this month revealed some fascinating findings about retirement prospects for my generation.  Sixty percent of the nearly 400 Baby Boomers interviewed thought it was realistic they could retire within the next ten years. A quarter of those surveyed, however, expressed doubts about their immanent retirement prospects.  In a recent New York Times article entitled, Goodbye Golden Years,  Harvard economist, Edward Glaeser cited statistics sure to elicit fear in those of us hoping to retire at some point during the next ten years.  He suggested that, “Retirement seems out of the question for increasing numbers of Americans who are saddled with debt and whose savings evaporated during the recent bust.”

Our parent’s generation, the so-called “Silent Generation”  (those born during the great depression and WWII) enjoyed a retirement scenario unprecedented in our history, and one that, as this data indicates, may not be available to all of us. But, don’t despair, did we ever really envision playing golf four days a week?  (OK, so maybe one or two days a week.)

I can’t imagine not being productive, not contributing, not making my own money.  Participants in the BoomerOpinion poll were asked the following question:

“If you had the opportunity to change your occupation at this point in your life, how likely would you be to do so?”   Forty-six percent (virtually half of all those surveyed) responded positively, saying they were quite likely to do so.  I found this data amazing and affirming.  I’m one of those Lady Boomers trying her hand at various creative entrepreneurial endeavors so it was nice to know my aspirations had company.

Edward Glaser went on to argue that America needs more entrepreneurship.  Baby Boomer can be the leaders in this entrepreneurship as they seek to reinvent themselves, as this data suggests they are willing to do.

West Palm Beach, a retiree haven, has the highest self-employment rate of any metropolitan area in the nation, consistent with other areas in the country attracting older Americans. Self-employment makes sense because it allows for more control over working hours and conditions.   And our generation loves control.

Many of us have spent years waking up at 6:00 am to be at a job we found depleting.  If we are not going to be able to kick back, drive a golf cart and play bridge all day, lets envision a different kind of retirement for ourselves.  Here are a few suggestions:

– Develop an exercise plan; join a YMCA or other gym; walk or ride a bike.  We are going to need to stay healthy for this next phase, and exercise is a critical component.  Make sure your employment endeavors can accommodate your exercise schedule, so you don’t have to be going to the gym at 5:30 in the morning.

-Choose an enterprise that fits your circadian rhythm (internal clock) one that allows you to arise and go to bed at a time best suited for you

-delve into your psyche through journaling or quiet reflections; explore what you have a passion for.  You may want to undergo a personality assessment to discover a field that suits you.

-Make it fun.  We are the generation who invented rock and roll.  We like to have fun.  Now is your chance…Here’s to meeting the new you.

What’s In your “Empty” Nest Now That You Have Retired?

21 Mar

One of my “resolutions” after having retired from the public school system after 35 years as a School Psychologist, was to begin writing about my “retirement” experiences.  Here it is 4 months later and the pen has yet to hit the paper, or should I say keystroke to document?  I am running out of excuses and my fall-back, “I just don’t have the time” is honestly no longer applicable.  I have been spurred into action, however, after conducting a journaling workshop with my friend, Liz, at the UCC annual women’s conference this past weekend.  The workshop, “What’s in Your Empty Nest?” was intended to provide participants with a creative journaling exercise to help explore the dreams and aspirations we may have put on hold due to work and family responsibilities as well as how to create a fun and interesting life after our “nests” are empty. The group was primarily women of the baby boomer generation who have also become known as the “sandwich” generation as they are caught between still caring for school or college aged children while also taking on responsibility for the caretaking of aging parents. Many women in this category also continue to either juggle a career or are venturing into retirement.

One woman spoke of having “retired” from an agency job after many years only to begin a private professional practice out of a lifetime need to feel productive. This helped her achieve some degree of financial success, although she now found that she had little time to have fun and enjoy activities such as gardening, which brought her greater personal and spiritual satisfaction. She is now attempting to strike a better balance between staying busy and productive with really living out her dreams.  Sometimes this retirement thing requires more reflection and energy than it might appear on the surface.  As a friend of mine recently said, “I thought retirement consisted of walking on the beach and spending more time with your family”, but that’s not the way it always works out.

Another woman recently retired from a busy law practice.  Her husband is several years older and they had planned to spend a large amount of time traveling after she retired while they were both healthy and vital enough to do so.  Simultaneously, the woman’s father died and her mother moved in to fill what had once been the couple’s empty nest. The woman is now finding that achieving her dream is more elusive as she takes on caretaking for her mother.

As women in similar circumstances we may find that our dreams have become rerouted or need to be revised due to changing circumstances or as our nests empty and fill up again.  But, in any case, we need to protect ourselves from abandoning our dreams altogether and to help each other around obstacles and to keep them in sight.