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A New Way to Think About Life After 65

5 June 2018

Allison read What to call the time of life between work and old age? in the Economist and thought everyone would appreciate this recommended approach to thinking about our lives after the age of 65.

Tags: allison read, balance

I started my business 18 years ago and from the beginning have had the pleasure of coaching many clients over the age of 65 and those approaching that age. Some were figuring out how to retire from faster paced jobs into part time work or full retirement. Others were working fulltime and had no intention of working less anytime soon. Several hired me to help with succession planning. A few wanted help thinking through how to enjoy their retirement and pursue important nonwork-related goals. And just about everyone I coach at any age is trying to figure out how to create a satisfying, balanced life and make the money they need. I’ve also helped people who endeavor to create a meaningful home life so that another member of their family can work outside of the home and make the money their family needs. (They want balance, too!)

Whatever category you’re privileged enough to fall into (there are so many among us who would give anything to have these choices), I think you’ll appreciate the Economist article, What to call the time of life between work and old age? "By 2100, the ratio of 65-plussers to "working-age" people will triple. As the world greys, growth, tax revenues and workforces will decline while spending on pensions and health care will increase. So, at least, goes the orthodoxy. Doom-mongers tend to miss a bigger point, however. Those extra years of life are predominantly healthy ones."

The Economist argues that naming life stages matters when it comes to perceptions. The term teen-ager was only used beginning in the 1940s but led to significant changes in how others perceived people in the group, communicated with them, advertised to them, engaged with them to meet labor needs, and so much more.

By thinking carefully about how to describe this population, we could begin to address this issue, “Five of the additional six years that a British boy born in 2015 can expect to live, compared with one born in 1990, will be healthy, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, at the University of Washington.Too many governments and firms fail to recognise this fact, instead lumping all the extra years in the damning category of 65 and over. This binary way of thinking, seeing retirement as a cliff edge over which workers and consumers suddenly tumble, bears little relation to the real world. It also encourages unimaginative policy, whereby the retirement age is occasionally moved as lifespans lengthen.”

So, let’s hear it for the “Owls (Older, Working Less, Still earning)!” You may like to be one or have to be one to support your longer life. You probably love “pre-tirees” who you hope will thrive for as long as possible. Sometimes you have to work longer to help take care of someone who isn’t fortunate enough to experience those extra years as healthy ones. And your workplace most likely could benefit from the meaningful contributions of OWLS.

I’d like to suggest that before we get to whatever age we deem appropriate for retirement that we work a few less hours, a little less frenetically, and disconnect from our jobs periodically, so that we can do a better job of choosing balance and leadership for the duration of our working lives.


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Gary O'Connell
Jun 05, 2018

Well said Allison.
I like the “OWLS” analogy.
Regardless of age, we should be working on good balance in our lives and not let work, or any one part overwhelm us. I like to think of a four part square of balance: family, health, work, personal/spiritual. If any get out of kilter it can all fall apart. My time is coming for a transition. Over 65 though is very much changing in our society.

Allison Partners
Jun 22, 2018

Thank you very much for sharing this article with me in the first place, Gary. You’re one of the many clients I work with who are redefining how long someone can have a meaningful and productive career. I think we may all want to get on board with the “OWLS!”


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