Focusing on Self-Reliance

“People who cannot invent themselves must be content with borrowed postures, secondhand ideas, fitting in instead of standing out.” ~ Warren G. Bennis

On last week’s (10/29) Awakening to Awareness Radio Show, my guest, Bob Grassberger, Ph.D., talked about several issues and related opportunities for Baby Boomers heading into retirement. I thought I’d continue the thread that he kicked off, which included Encore Careers, Lifelong Learning, and Entrepreneurship.

Bob alluded that just because boomers want to work during their retirement years doesn’t mean they’ll find a job. About two-thirds of older workers have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace, according to a survey by AARP. Increasingly, boomers are getting around that problem by working for themselves. In 2011, individuals aged 55 to 64 accounted for nearly 21% of new entrepreneurs, up from 14.3% in 1996, reports the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. I find this fascinating and encouraging.

Intellectual curiosity isn’t limited to the young. Across the U.S., colleges and universities are designing programs for boomers who want to learn a language or read all those books they put aside when their kids were born. Through a program funded by the Bernard Osher Foundations, more than 100 colleges and universities offer noncredit courses for students age 50 and older.

Community colleges, meanwhile, are reaching out to boomers who want to update their job skills. The American Association of Community Colleges’ Plus 50 Initiative help community colleges create or expand programs targeted at students age 50 and older, particularly those who want to prepare for a new career.

Challenging the conventional wisdom which held that boomers are only concerned about the present, another AARP study finds strong evidence that they have actually focused quite a lot on the prospect of retirement. A strong majority of boomers (72%) say they have given a lot or at least some thought to their retirement years, Baby Boomers’ definition of their retirement seems to include a large measure of self-reliance. It is worthy to note that two-thirds of boomers are satisfied with the amount of money they are putting away today for retirement.

In the July 19, 2013 issue of The Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Retirement Weekly Editor Robert Powell wrote on “Creating your ‘retirement vision’.” It’s an informative story that talks about tasks that pre-retirees ought to complete before officially leaving their working lives behind. The piece serves as a useful checklist.

If the notion of self-reliance resonates and you’re interested in listening to my Bob Grassberger interview, the free podcast can be downloaded here. Looking for some retirement planning starters, consider these three:

  • Know your boundaries. It is inevitable that people will decide that since you are retired, you have extra time and extra resources. With this in mind, understand that if you are willing to do whatever, someone will let you. Set your own agenda and do so before you are asked. Learn to say “no” and mean it. You can learn to say it nicely and still get your point across.
  • Make life plans. It is important to plan for the non-financial aspect of retirement by considering what will make you happy. Tackle what you’ve always dreamed of doing. Make a life plan and kick-off your experiences as you move forward.
  • Consider what retiree Pia Louise advises: Give up regrets. “I almost destroyed myself over things I cannot change. I’ve reinvented myself. I do not think on the past anymore,” she says. “I’m so present in my life — I went from a zero to a ten. It took some time but I could not be happier.” “You’ve come this far, be who you dream you want to be!”

11 thoughts on “Focusing on Self-Reliance

  1. Give up regrets – yes, so important! We’ve gotta forgive ourselves and accept what has (or hasn’t) happened, so that the wonderful things both present and yet to come can become the real blessings that they are meant to be to us. Have a good day, Eric!

    • For me, Donna, it was one of several factors/considerations to become an entrepreneur eight years ago. When traditional workplace doors closed, I chose to open my own, on my terms. 🙂 Thanks for sharing with us.

    • Thanks, Chris, I agree. Even though I frequently post for Baby Boomer and emerging senior readers, quite often the topic has applicability across multiple generations. Are you back in HKG or off to the mainland?

  2. I remember being in my early twenties at medical school. I was a senior then and there was this English lady about 50 or so who was admitted into 1st year. She was so cool! 😀

    • I’ve had and equally appreciated similar experiences, Shree. Older, returning students are often much more committed and willing to work. They are also there because they want to be and genuinely desire to learn. A bit of a different mindset than that of many traditional students. 🙂

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