I came across some research from 2013, “Work Longer, Live Healthier” by Gabriel Sahlgren in the Institute of Economic Affairs, with some disconcerting stats about life in retirement that has clear implications for Baby Boomers:
– Retirement decreases the likelihood of being in “very good” or “excellent” self-assessed health by about 40%
– Retirement increases the probability of suffering from clinical depression by about 40 per cent
– Retirement increases the probability of having at least one diagnosed physical condition by about 60 per cent
-Retirement increases the probability of taking a drug for such a condition by about 60 per cent
– Retiring before you expected to do so (forced or incentivized), leads to poorer self-assessed health than retiring at your expected (traditional) age
– Retirement may show some improvement in health in the early stages (due to less stress and fatigue), but that effect wears off as life in retirement deepens
With prospects like these, why would anyone want to retire?
Of course, many of us don’t get to choose – We may be laid off, receive an early retirement package, have a health crisis, or become a caretaker for a loved one. Some of us just get worn down by the grind of the job. A dentist told me that his peers often have major physical issues in their 60s (stemming from standing and contorting their hands to work on relatively small human mouths for 35 years) that effectively forces them out.
So what does this mean to you and your retirement plans? Maybe you just won’t retire (although that is often not your choice). Maybe you’ll find fulfilling work. Maybe you won’t find anyone to hire you again. These are all scenarios we see and hear.
If you’re going to leave anyway, maybe you need a parachute – As I have often said, you have two choices when you get this this stage of life: plan for how you will leave full-time work, or let others plan it for you. Which sounds better to you?
One way to think about this is to identify yourself outside of work. Ask yourself some questions, but preface them with “Outside of my work…” …how am I valued by others? …what am I proud of? …what gives my life meaning?
As you think more broadly about your life and your future, you will begin the hard task of envisioning a new version of yourself. You have done this before, often subconsciously. Perhaps it was after your formal education ended, or maybe after you got married, or became a parent. These are existential changes in your life. Living in your 50s, 60s and beyond is often an existential change as well.