“Work after Work: Our new age of life and the moral necessity for ‘Returnment’” by Jay Bloom

Returnment – n.

1) The act of giving back or returning in some small way what the world has given you.

2) Especially as an alternative to retirement.

 

Carl Van Horn, director of the Rutgers Center, was quoted as saying, “Retiring Boomers will have the same sweeping impact as the entrance of women into the workforce in the 70s.”

Our old model of retirement suggested that people essentially worked until the ages of 60-65, and then a person felt fortunate if there were a few years of leisure before their physical health deteriorated and/or death ensued. Now people can retire at age 60 and expect to live twenty or more vibrant years, especially if they have taken care of themselves physically.

As every eight seconds someone turns 50 in this country, I believe there is a great spiritual need and moral necessity for redefining “retirement” with “returnment.” I define “returnment” as “the act of giving back or returning in some small way what the world has given to you.” Other words could be used such as stewardship, trusteeship or husbandry. I like this new word because it captures not only our new age of life but the psychological and spiritual needs of this time of life as well.

The pursuit of the traditional retirement life of primarily leisure and consumption will lead to not only a tremendous loss of talent, experience and resources, but intensified inter-generational economic and resource conflicts and ultimately for most individuals, regret and despair. Hillel challenges us with these words: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I?”

Many people will need a meaning and reason to continue to live. Medical research is also learning that those who have a reason to live generally live longer. My belief is that a large number of boomers with their new age of life and longer life spans will want to be involved in some type of “work.” More importantly, I believe they will want work that allows for more meaning and purpose than their earlier work provided.
To live the rest of our lives uninvolved and unengaged I believe will be unrewarding and unacceptable. In fact unless you are engaged in your later years you are just dying longer not living longer.

Just imagine if only a portion of the 3 million people retiring or changing their work each year now were to pursue a life of “returnment.” What problems could be addressed? How many children’s lives would be different? What new kind of energy would be created? What level of hope?

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“Every man’s obligation is to put into the world at least what he takes out of it.”  -Albert Einstein

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Jay C. Bloom provides executive and personal coaching to leaders, managers, and individuals who are experiencing a transition in their lives or desiring to strengthen their professional skills and capabilities.  He also provides leadership and management consultation to nonprofit and private organizations, with a special expertise in helping organizations develop effective partnerships.  
Jay is currently working as a sustainability consultant with the State of Hawaii Office on Aging and the statewide Healthy Aging partnership to further embed evidenced based health promotion and disease prevention programs throughout Hawaii.  He has several years of experience in executive non-profit management.  He can be reached at www.BloomAnew.com

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