At this year’s Miami Book Fair International, Chris Farrell spoke about his insightful new book, “Unretirement.” Always on the alert for new insights for my 50 Plus Reinvented project, I asked Farrell the following question:
What one piece of advice would you give a recently laid off Baby Boomer?
“Begin by looking at your network…at the people in your life. Look at your skills and think about how you want to contribute. Also, we have this inaccurate ‘Hunter S Thompson’ attitude about getting older…almost like ‘Fear and Loathing about Aging in America’ and I just don’t think it’s an accurate depiction. Most people would like to continue to work… to contribute… they are searching for meaning and relevancy and have skills from a lifetime of working. Most people want to remain engaged and connected. Look into Encore.org for opportunities to put your skills to work for a nonprofit or in the social services while receiving a small salary. Next Avenue is also a good resource. This time for Baby Boomers is an enormous experimentation… people should find something they want to do… most people do not want to just walk away because work is a social institution and provides connection.”
As Farrell pointed out, most Baby Boomers want to continue working, so how does a person effectively recast him or herself for the next role? Very few of us will stop working at 65, sit in the proverbial rocking chair and wait to die. It’s indeed time to reconsider retirement. We must all look for a new way to apply our skills, yet for most people that’s easier said than done. However, there are great tools available. For example, Pamela Slim, who wrote a best-selling book and started a movement called “Escape from Cubicle Nation” has a new book called, “Body of Work.” Slim’s latest book is focused on helping people look at their lives in terms of a personal brand based on what they’ve accomplished so far. The book helps people identify the threads that tie their life accomplishments together in a cogent and well articulated package.
Another issue that seems to trip people up is the feeling that they haven’t found their life’s work (see my previous book, “Finding Your Niche Can Be a Real Bitch“) and don’t really want to go back to what they were doing in their previous career. That’s where it’s important to do some digging so you can figure out how to pivot into something new. If you need inspiration, look no further than Justine Bateman, an actor from the ’80s TV show “Family Ties” who decided to go back to school to learn computer programming. Her story is an honest and impressive look at someone who decided to go in another direction entirely and even though she’s not technically a Baby Boomer (she was born in ’66 and the cutoff is ’64), she’s still a great example of someone starting over and making tough choices.
If you need additional inspiration about older people reinventing themselves, take a look at “Choose Yourself” author James Altucher‘s list of people (page 50 of the free PDF) who didn’t succeed until they were well past the five-decade mark. In conclusion, we all need to continue to reinvent ourselves and reconsider retirement which may never come. I’ll be 56 next month and I, for one, feel like I’m just getting started.