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They’ll Have To Wheel Me Out Of Here On A Stretcher – Business Succession

  |   Business and Personal Transition, Baby Boomers, business succession

by Larry Gard, Ph.D.

image stretcherAccording to a 2014 Gallup poll, 10% of baby boomers said they had no plans to retire. I’ve met many of these “retirement resisters” over the years and they often proudly declare their intention to work indefinitely. On the one hand I admire their resolve, yet some of their proclamations could arguably be met with a question:

  • I’m never going to retire” – (How do you know that’s in the best interests of your business and your family?)
  • I’m having too much fun to stop” (Did you ever hear this piece of advice about parties: “Always leave while you’re still having a good time!”)
  • “They’ll have to wheel me out of here on a stretcher” (What impact might that have on your company and your clients?
  • “I intend to die at my desk” Is that the BEST you can do with your wisdom and experience? *
    * with thanks to my colleague Paul Cronin at The Platinum Years®.

I suppose one could hypothesize that deep down these people might be grappling with any number of emotional obstacles to retirement such as:

I’m afraid I’ll be irrelevant.
I’m afraid of getting older.
I’m afraid I’ll get sick like my mother or father did.
I’m afraid I’ll run out of money.
I’m afraid I’ll be bored.
I’m afraid it will be uncomfortable spending so much time with my spouse.

But the fact is, I hear these exact same anxieties from clients who are actively planning their retirement. So I’m not convinced that fear is what’s driving those who intend to work forever. I’d like to propose an alternative explanation:

They have not yet discovered a more compelling alternative to working full time.

Here are a few possible reasons why:

They didn’t have sufficient time to develop meaningful, truly gratifying avocations.
Some people were fully immersed in their business or career, either by choice or by necessity, leaving little opportunity to cultivate other interests.

They never had a role model.
Many people grew up with parents who worked until they could no longer do so, and consequently they had no role model of someone who enjoyed an active and rewarding retirement.

They feel uncomfortable not working.
Baby boomers tend to have a strong work ethic. A willingness to put in long hours and get the job done is admirable and can serve us well. Unfortunately some people overuse this strength to the point that they feel ill at ease when they’re not working.

Telling these individuals to “stop working so hard” and “take time for themselves” is ineffective. Many people are justifiably irritated by such unsolicited advice. I have many close friends who insist that it’s their prerogative to work as long as they please. I’m inclined to agree, as long as they recognize the impact of doing so on all the stakeholders involved.

So how should we respond to those who say they’ll never retire? We owe them respect for their experience, tenacity, and accomplishments. We also owe them honest feedback if their work is doing more harm than good. And if we perceive an opening, we can help them discover compelling alternatives to full time employment. I often suggest that my clients check out the inspirational stories posted by Encore.org, an organization whose tagline is “Second acts for the greater good”.

After a lifetime of working, what could be better? Lots of things – but unless and until you look for them you won’t see them.

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If you would like a simple place to start thinking about your future and making a difference, please download chapter one of the book, 7 Principles For Living With Authenticity, by Jack Beauregard by clicking here or the image at left.



About Dr. Gard

Larry Gard is a psychologist and founder of Hamilton-Chase Consulting. He provides pre-retirement coaching to late career professionals and business owners who are contemplating their next step. www.hamiltonchaseconsulting.com

© 2017 Hamilton-Chase Consulting