Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.
Today, that's what it's all about when people enter, contemplate or are somehow downsized into retirement. For many, retirement is a natural progression of many years of working and putting things in order into a (hopefully) smooth transition enjoying another life chapter.
Others get caught smack in the middle of workplace issues - and find they - the oldest, highest-paid employees - say good-by first. Forced retirement may change attitudes, dash hopes and drain bank accounts.
Retirement forces us to rethink who we are now and will be in the future. For many, it's imagining what we will do to fill all those future non-working hours.
For couples like Phyllis and Art Fliss of Bethpage, Long Island and Boynton Beach, Florida, retirement starts out as relaxation, travel, golf, reading and visiting with their grand daughter. Several years later, it evolves into a new painting hobby/career for Phyllis and a part-time sales job for former graphics artist Art. They both are happy with their decisions, although it wasn't exactly what they had originally planned.
In 2006, one baby boomer turns 60 every 7.5 seconds. This happy birthday for boomers will continue for the next 19 years, until the last of the baby boomers enters their sixth decade.
That doesn't sound so old, considering 60 is the new 50, 40 or 30 - depending on which report or survey you're reading. It's also a question of mind over matter. Some people are old at 60 or young at 80.
That's when a positive attitude really helps. If you're actively engaged in life and living, chances are you will smile for many years to come....even if the smile contains teeth that aren't your own!
Boomers and seniors are now reinventing their retirement years. Master plans for retirement may drastically change. Consider all the decisions retirees must make throughout the years ahead - regarding health, finances, assets, housing, hobbies, travel, family time and lifestyle changes. They want to keep their minds and bodies active.
It's enough to make a retiree go back to work.
That's what millions of retirees are doing - refiring themselves with brand new careers, entrepreneurial businesses, and jobs at local supermarkets or retail stores. Many attend college for the first or second time, and others make a full-time career of volunteering for worthwhile causes.
Social interaction combined with independence provides happiness and satisfaction for many a boomer or senior.
Granny Rapper (aka Angela Puscaterra) reinvented herself in her early seventies from retirement into a new life as a...granny rapper. She writes her own music, wears bling-bling plus a baseball cap, and is considering several show business opportunities in the future.. She can dance up a storm with her back-up singers, and thrives on her own creativity. "Way to go," as they say...
There are many great "how-to books" available for pre-planning retirement. But, for people who worked for most of their lives, there was no free time to read those books. Thus, many retirees have off-the-job training on how to thrive and survive the coming years.
Between 1995 and 2000, the average age of retirement for men was 62, and women left the business world at 61 1/2 years young, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Today, this early retirement is becoming a dinosaur as most people expect to retire at almost 65. Unless they're like approximately 3.5 million boomers, or nearly 5% of all baby boomers, who involuntarily left the workplace and were forced to revamp their futures between 2001 and 2003.
Financial stress - or worry about outliving savings and investments - continues to be a major concern. Maintaining good health and fit bodies is also on peoples' minds. These just may be the reasons retirees take full- or part-time jobs, compare notes about doctors' visits and compete for the best golf or tennis scores.
So, what will make retirement a positive experience? Add a sense of humor along with the ability to see the positive over the negative. Mix in loving friends and family. Stir up some travel, classes, and hobbies. Offer to share the wisdom and experiences your past has given your present. Place yourself on a pedestal of self-worth. Think of living longer and healthier than any other generation in history.
Anything is possible if you have the time, opportunity and a bit of luck.
Reinventing yourself during retirement might not be a bad thing at all!
Sharon Sultan Cutler is the baby boomer to senior expert writer for www.LongIsland.com. She also publishes a monthly internet magazine and resource directory for baby boomers to seniors, www.MatureResources.org.
She vows that she will retire by 95, if things work out the ways she anticipates.