Avoid the “Unretirement” Gap Year by Planning for Your Future-Self

Author: Jerry Cahn

Avoid the “Unretirement” Gap Year by Planning for Your Future-Self

OpEd Passion

Imagine your high school teenager is a senior. You ask Chris about next year’s plans. She/he has none whatsoever, so plans to take the year off and enjoy life; maybe next year she/he will do what peers are doing, start their college career so they can prepare for adulthood. 

Most parents and school advisors don’t wait till the middle of the senior year to address this issue. Throughout high school, there have been discussions about exploring career opportunities, taking part-time jobs to experience workplaces, and studying to get the grades necessary to qualify for the best schools from which to get good jobs – in terms of pay, passion and/or purpose – and even launch her/his first career.

Why do we expect teenagers to engage in such planning, but not expect it from adults?

For almost a decade, people have used the word “unretirement” to describe a growing phenomenon: people who retire from work for a life of leisure and then, after a period of time, decide that they want to use their time better and engage in purposeful activities, such as starting a business getting a job, or volunteering to make the world a better place. One of the pioneers is Chris Farrell who wrote Unretirement: How Baby Boomers are Changing the Way We Think About Work, Community, and the Good Life

Industry experts like Age Wave suggest that people retire from work for about a year and then, if they’re not happy with that life, try to find another job.  (Do they believe that ageism’s limitations on older workers finding new jobs especially after a long-break has disappeared?) Indeed, the acceptance of this belief continues. Recently, Entrepreneur Magazine published an article whose title states the author’s perspective: The Unretirement Phenomenon: Why Leaders Are Calling It Quits on Retirement (and Why That’s a Good Thing).  Yes, there are many jobs that older workers (we call them SharExers™) can take which leverage their experiences and expertise, including coaching, providing advisory services, and entrepreneurship.

But the real issue is why do we expect teens to look ahead but not adults already in the workforce to do the same for the many life opportunities in front of them till they’re 100+?

If you’re an Age Brilliantly member, you know that a fundamental principle is that all adults should maximize their opportunity to lead long, fulfilling lives (to 100+). They can retire from income-producing work when they want – whether at 30, 50, 70 or 90, depending on their life circumstances (e.g., health, finances, relationships, etc. For instance, if you sell a company at age 30 for $100M, you might want to retire from work entirely or take a well-deserved break and then start another company. Alternatively, if you enjoy your work till 90+ and decide to stop for whatever reason, then do so. But thinking middle-age has to trigger retirement from meaningful activities other than golf, pickle ball or knotting, is an antiquated mindset.

It’s one reason that we’re partnering with a team focused on helping people “Plan for Their Future Selves.”

Imagine you’re 45, and know that the kids are going to be leaving the home for college or leaving for jobs in other cities in the next few years; you can start planning for where you want to live and what you want to do during the first part of your “Future-Self”. That will be followed by several “next” parts of your Future-Self as your life constantly changes in terms of health, financials, relationships, and interest in purpose and passion through the next 50+ years.

No, it’s not easy, but was it really easy for Chris at 17 years old to build an adaptable general plan for the post-High School Future-Self? 
To learn more about our team’s Launch Your Future-Self project, including getting mentoring/coaching, using tools to plan out your life, and create monitoring-feedback systems, contact me at jcahn@FullLifeMentoring.com

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