Retiring at 55 to a life filled with leisurely days of golf and afternoon cocktails is a dying concept, says Ken Dychtwald, psychologist, gerontologist and author of "The Power Years."
When it comes to retirement, "please forget everything you've been told," Dychtwald says in his new book. As the baby boomers reach their "golden years," they are redefining retirement just as they have redefined almost every stage of life up to that point.
More often, people are staying in the work force longer. One major reason is that life is expensive, and as people live longer, they need to work longer to support themselves. But many baby boomers decide to keep working because they are not ready to "fade away." They have more dreams to pursue, and, Dychtwald contends, would be bored if they entered traditional retirement at 55.
Dychtwald offered the following advice to "Good Morning America" viewers entering their "power years."
First, do what you really want to do now. You don't have to impress anyone or earn as much as you've been earning.
Second, reinvent your career. Go back to school or do something you love but have never done professionally.
Third, realize there is a brain drain of boomers leaving the work force so more people will be looking for your expertise and will value it.
Dychtwald offers much more advice in his book, and you can read an excerpt of "The Power Years" below.
Do you long for a life without work or pressure in which your days are spent baking for the grandchildren or playing eighteen holes of golf in the morning, followed by a leisurely lunch and afternoon of bridge, then cocktails, a delicious early dinner, and a good movie? After all, that's how it worked for our grandparents and parents, isn't it? We grew up surrounded by this model of a leisure-filled later life.
Please forget everything you've been told. It's not your obligation to go away just because you're getting older. Nor is it your birthright to cede all responsibility to your community and mankind so that you may lead a life of leisure in retirement. Of course, you may choose these paths if you wish, but in our view that would be a mistake. Certainly there is no guarantee that you'll be able to afford a carefree romp through later life or even that you'll enjoy it if that's where you can afford to wind up. Reinventing yourself and repowerment -- ramping up life where and when you choose and in ways that excite you, not winding down into obscurity -- is the mold-shattering, exciting new stage that will come next for our generation.
While we've had our heads down toiling away these past few decades, spending more time than we might have envisioned at work and raising our children, the world has changed enormously. As we all know, the Internet, global trade, medical breakthroughs, and more are speeding up the pace of life even as life itself is being extended, posing new challenges in our careers and families. In this book, we cannot hope to deal with all the changes confronting our lives. Yet it's vitally important for each of us to appreciate just how different things really are and will become as we move into the next stage of life, a stage that we -- the eighty-four million North Americans born between 1946 and 1964 as well as hundreds of millions more maturing adults around the world -- will redefine as the power years.