How Long Will You Be Working?

If you spend any time talking to 64 1/2 year olds, you’ll find out pretty quickly that retirement is not an option. Regardless of what their social security might give them, it will likely not be enough to live on. Offset the costs? Certainly. But be a fallback? Nope…not according to those I’ve talked to recently.

64 1/2 year olds are planning on working till 70 and even 80 if they think they can keep the work. On one hand, they need to continue to feel useful. On the other hand, they need to pay the rent.

I remember when my mother, at 50, set out on her own, after divorce. It never occurred to her that she might be considered unemployable. And after many, many, many attempts at finding a paying job, she realized she had to start her own business. Which she did. Quite successfully. At 71, she is still working…granted, not as much — her energy isn’t as high as it was even five years ago — but she has a loyal client base, loves her craft and generates income.

She isn’t the only one. Far from it. There is the gentleman I know who took a job as a night watchman, finally got a placement in a city job and is working his way up the ladder…at 62. Then there is the woman I’ve corresponded with, who after years of fruitless job search, finally landed a part time job with a non-profit — and she is grateful to have the supplemental income.

Who else? The sales manager who had been unemployed for four years and recently was brought in as a top manager for a sales organization. A 57 year old corporate exec who went back to school to become a teacher and is now working his way up into management. And I could go on and on and on.

We are living much, much longer. It’s a great thing and a very scary proposition at the same time. Our needs will be growing exponentially in the next twenty years — for income, for medical support, for long term care, for acknowledgement and for a place to contribute back to the workforce.

The changes and support are not going to come about through government. By the time the bureaucratic initiatives (oooh..that’s an oxymoron) on aging come into play, we’ll all be dead and gone. So the time to act and work toward change is…well…now. I know I’m planning on being around for a long, long time if I can. And that means, I’ll be working, whether employers want me or not, well into my seventies if not my eighties. What about you?

Don’t forget to email me at wspiegel@genplususa.com if you want me to include you in our Gen Plus Town Hall Forum on January 22, 2008 in LA.

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