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Published:September 3rd, 2013 13:28 EST
Retirement Redefined; Life After 50 Can Be Awesome

Retirement Redefined; Life After 50 Can Be Awesome

By Jay Forte

There is a current understanding that after our work career ends, we should be content to focus on leisure sports, taking it easy and spending time with grandkids. I know many people who have tried to retire and were bored to tears. That doesn`t mean that some can`t. But most of today`s Baby Boomers, the largest worker cohort in history whose hallmarks were work, advancement and achievement, are not ready to only golf, visit and watch television at the end of their work life. They crave activity, passion and purpose. The over 50s want lives that are vibrant, energetic and impactful.

Many people over 50 like me are now realizing that this point in life is the start of the second or third career. We aren`t ready to retire, nor do we want to. Instead we want to redefine how we do life. But this time, it will be one better aligned to our unique abilities; this time we are choosing to show up to things that we are good at and are interested in. We are searching the world better to find places and opportunities that need what we do best so we get to be who we are and make a more profound impact.

We want to be active and passionately connected to making a difference; we don`t want to work for work`s sake. We now want work that is connected to purpose, to impact and to legacy. We are not ready to retire (partly because we need the money " we weren`t great savers) and partly because living powerfully, with impact and intentionally has always been who we are. We don`t believe in retirement, we believe in life realignment.

I remember when my parents turned 50 " and how old that number sounded. But I reached that point 6 years ago. And I am sure I am like many others who just can`t connect our age with who we are and what we should be doing. The world needs what we know; we have the health and energy to continue to show up in a significant way each day. But now we are finally learning how to choose things that better fit our talents, strengths and passions. We are learning how to connect what we are great at to applications in today`s world to use what we are great at to connect to our purpose and transform our world.

What makes this new generation of over 50s different? I think we have learned two important things:

  1. We never previously learned to be self-aware enough to make decisions about work and life that fit us. We were in careers in which we endured. But now we are focused on fit. We are beginning to see at this age who we really are, what matters to us, what we are good at and what interests us " and we are ready to act on it.
  2. A great life is ours to create at any age, even over 50. We own our happiness, wellbeing and impact at every age.

So many of us live beneath our potential " and we shortchange ourselves and our world when we play small. Life is amazing if we make it amazing " at every age. Some feel the older we become, the less we should be active, adventurous, ambitious and energized. Having left the my corporate jobs at 50 and stepping into my follow-up career as an author, speaker and coach, these adjectives now describe my life more in my 50s than at any other point in my history.

I believe that we have only two critical tasks in life. First " to discover what makes us unique, amazing and awesome. Second " to use what makes us unique, amazing and awesome to transform the/our world. Mortality helps us realize that our lives are to be purposeful and that at some point in our lives we have to focus on that purpose. This is becoming the hallmark of the over 50 group " activity around purpose " life realignment, not retirement.

Maybe we are also more aware of this self-awareness thinking because of our shift from the industrial age to today`s intellectual age. We moved out from behind machines to in front of customers; our make-things economy shifted to a provide-service economy. In this economy, we each have to be more aware of what we are good at and interested in " or customers know it and the business suffers. So maybe it was this workplace movement that has inspired us to be more conscious, aware and connected to who we are. And now that we know this, we don`t want what we used to have " busy but disconnect work. Today, we want work that connects the best of who we are to something meaningful. We want to add value, not just stay busy.

So the fifties are the (re)start of my best life " one that now knows its purpose and is not settling for roles that don`t connect with my best abilities and my sense of fit. Gone are the doing-what-everybody-else-does days. Lesson learned. Gone are the living-for-the-wishes-and-expectations-of-others rules. Lesson learned.

Present is the understanding and need to be authentic, true, passionate and purposeful. Present is the choosing how to spend each day, committed to things that fit my best abilities and make an impact. Clarity can sometimes come with age.

Life only stops when we think we are old and have nothing to contribute. As Dr Mehmet Oz says, If you don`t have a good reason for your heart to keep beating, it generally won`t. " Purpose and value keep us young and interested in life. Age is simply a number. Life, however, is an attitude. Retirement has always been about slowing down and checking out. Life realignment, instead, is about starting new chapters, reconnecting to purpose and showing up excited, vibrant and passionate about each day. Life after 50 is awesome. Just like life before 50.