Aging

by Joe

Working after 70…only 4%!

This blog is the second part in a continuing series. If this peaks your curiousity, we suggest reading part one, which you can find here on this LinkedIn page, too.

Facts:

  • Life expectancy continues to increase. Starting at age 25, and assuming that one’s health continues more or less problem-free, and further assuming that one wishes to continue working, impactful work could continue until age 78.  Compared to the usual retirement age, the percentage of added “working years” is significant.
  • Medical care and health products are affordable and readily available for general aches and pains. Maladies which were a short time ago were a death sentence are now curable and easily corrected. Think “lasik” surgery.
  • Fewer jobs/careers involve challenging physical labor, compared with the world our parents lived in.
  • Post-pandemic job opportunities are everywhere and second career opportunities are abundant in this “work from home/anywhere” world.

Advantages /reasons for working longer:

  • You can easily postpone collecting Social Security until age 70. This means an increase of 30% income for the remainder of your/your spouses’ lifetime.
  • By working longer, one gains both physical and mental health benefits. There are many articles on this. Use Google!
  • Continue socialization continues to develop us mentally and spiritually. We don’t realize how much of our social interaction comes from work until we are removed from it.
  • Self-worth. Hopefully, you’ve made your living doing something you believe “makes a significant difference” to society, and possibly even to eternity. Some folks refer to this as self-actualization.
  • More money. Depending on your situation, this could mean caring for basic needs; however for most of my readers, these funds will be used for travel, entertaining, passing along to those you love (sharing) and even philanthropic generosity. If you’re fortunate enough to own a business, the income it generates can provide spectacular income for the people you care about and, If you’re reading this, I suspect you’ll find the last option to be the most attractive one. The happiness and joy that your generosity creates for the causes you believe in could be the most motivating reason to continue working. For me, nothing adds purpose and meaning like philanthropy does. I find difficult to replicate in other ways.

Working keeps our world larger, longer.

  • Work can be an adrenaline rush- it’s fun! If you’re like me, work gives you a reason to wake up in the morning.
  • If you’ve chosen wisely, you sincerely enjoy, like, and possibly even love the people you work with. Staying engaged in work means you get to stay connected with people in your industry/work space/career. In the best cases, our professional relationships inevitably lead to authentic friendships, stimulating conversations and life-long relationships. These special people will likely be the among the few who attend our funerals and who continue to demonstrate care and love for our family once we’ve have passed.

So then, with all of these advantages, why have 96% of all people over age 70 stopped working?  

My research has revealed a few reasons.  For instance:

  • Illness or some incapacitating issue(s).
  • They were fired or corporate policy dictated an end to the position (such as partners in a few firms)
  • They took a break and found it difficult to re-enter their profession at a level equal to where they left off.
  • They are looking, but have set their salary goals so high that they cannot find anything. It’s possible that by over-valuing themselves, these people have left good money on the table.
  • Previously, they were in a small business that went bankrupt or shut down for any of a multitude of reasons.
  • They had a financial wind-fall (gift, estate, lottery, home equity loan, etc.) and now that the financial need has diminished, they’re finding it challenging to get motivated again.
  • Alcohol or drug dependency.
  • For some people, work never was the motivating, invigorating experience I described above. Since they hated their job, they’d rather live on less than work again.
  • They’ve been burned out by the stresses or physical demands of the job.
  • Technology changes have made their skill sets obsolete and they’re no longer needed in the work place. Think about phone booth repairmen or computer card programmers for instance.
  • Automation has phased out market demand for their type of work and other types of work tey do know well have become too competitive to find a job.
  • Staying home to care for parents or children.
  • Some folks are just plain lazy and its easier and more lucrative to live off government handouts/”entitlements” and people’s charity than to work.
  • Retirement is something that these people have saved and planned for over their lifetimes. Now is the time they’ve waited for.  They don’t want to trade away these precious years to volunteer, travel, watch the sunrise and enjoy time with loved ones for a paycheck.  For them,  retirement is the life they’ve been waiting for, and they wish they’d done it sooner. These people remind us that no one has said on their death bed “I should have spent more hours in the office.” They also remind us “you’ll never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul” (a not so subtle reminder that all our ‘stuff’ cannot help us when we die).
  • Some people have so many hobbies and other responsibilities that they simply do not have time to consider working again – nor do they have any desire to do so. The most common statement is “I don’t know how I found time to work.”

NOTE: My research reveals the first four bullet points in the above list probably account for upwards of 65% of those who quit work. Most under 50 will claim they have no plans to retire or that retirement will come at an age much older than 65 or 70.

 

This claim is likely driven by looking at their savings and the heavy projected cost of living a long time. Total your savings and figure you can extract 4% for the rest of your life. Add that to your social security and/ or other income streams. This is what we can count on having to last us until our final days.  After doing the math, the most common solution is “I hope I can work a long time.” 

This is not a good financial strategy neither is it the reason that I’m addressing the topic. I’m actually more interested in those of you who really do NOT need to work for financial reasons!

So, which category do you fall in?  Are you intrigued by the possibility of joining this 4% minority group of successful and happy +70 careerists? What intentional steps should you take before you hit that birthday?

It is rare enough it probably will not just happen. As an advocate and one who has chosen work with great intentionality, who feels blessed, content and looks forward to the decade ahead, I am an unabashed “evangelist” for the cause!

Frankly, I can say that, if you join the four-percenters, you do not necessarily need to give up much.  You just might enjoy a healthier, more fulfilling life than if you retire. Also, you do not need to have regrets on your death bed. Work is not a dirty four-letter word. Is work for everyone? Of course not. Could it be a pleasant reality for say six or seven percent of us?  I think so. Perhaps you are one of us. Where in thunder did we get the magic age of 65 anyway? The answer: the government handed it to us decades ago when the average citizen died around that age. No joke. Google it.

Now it’s your turn!

Are you approaching an age where retirement has at least occurred to you as a realizable option?  If so, are you thinking of taking that step, and if not, why not?  

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to think about this issue, and if something interesting occurs to you, how about sharing it with the rest of us?  Leave a comment on this page…. who knows, you might inspire someone else to also give the issue a closer look!  If you’d rather keep your thoughts a little more private, perhaps email me at gene@word4asia.com

All the best,

Gene

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