“Putting Off Retirement?” by Bev Scott

Have your dreams of retirement become lost in a distant haze?  Are wondering if you will ever be able to quit work?  With the deepest postwar recession many of us found our savings and housing values decimated by the market meltdown.  With the continuing uncertainty of a full economic recovery, we are wondering if retirement is even possible.

Indeed, NPR reported last week that 20% of those over 50 who officially retired have gone back to work.  You may be among them, part of the population of baby boomers hanging on to their jobs, sometimes referred to as Generation Unretired or Generation U.  Yet, 70% of boomers see themselves continuing to work either full or part-time according to an Age Wave and Harris Interactive Poll in 2009.  The poll found that 5% of workers envisioned that they would continue to work full time in their retirement years.  43% saw themselves going back and forth between periods of work and periods of leisure; while 22% saw themselves working part time.  Only 30% saw themselves as never having to work again.  As the lingering recession continues in 2010 without much hope for immediate relief, more of us are counting on working full or part time.  

Active workers in the traditional “retirement zone” who work in jobs with opportunity for continued growth and fulfillment, make contribution to their organization’s  productivity and success.  However, workers who are hanging on, bored with their work, disillusioned about opportunities and afraid of losing their jobs can undermine organizational effectiveness.

As we approach our retirement years we often discover that we want more meaning in our lives, even if continue to work.  We want opportunities for challenge and growth.  Are you a member of Generation U searching for more fulfillment or learning opportunities in your job?  There may be opportunity for you to initiate some changes that will make work more meaningful for you and more effective for your organization.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Explore your personal and work goals at this stage of your life in a safe and supportive environment through workshops or coaching(www.the3rdact.com),  to identify options that would bring more meaning and challenge.
  • Become a mentor.  Participate in mutual mentoring programs:  a)  for knowledge transfer from your experience and expertise to younger generations; b) for your own learning of new skills and appreciation from younger more technologically savvy generations.  You will be more engaged and feel more valued by making a contribution, learning new skills and staying employed.
  • Speak to your boss or your human resource representative about the potential of alternative work schedules and responsibilities such as reduced time schedules, taking on special projects or consulting assignments or job sharing with others who also want to work part time.
  • Get involved in your favorite cause as a volunteer.  Use your signature strengths to support an organization you care about.  Engaging and using our skills for something bigger than ourselves distracts us from the dissatisfactions in our own lives. 

I hope you will explore these and other possibilities and find opportunities for continued growth, challenge and fulfillment while making a contribution to the productivity and effectiveness of your organization.  Let me know your thoughts and experience.

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