As an Ouroboros, Life Begins at Death.

Starting Over

The phenomenon of a worker who has already been in the workforce for 40-plus years suddenly starting a new career at 60 or older is a trend that has been growing exponentially as baby boomers hit and surpassed thie age bracket, and my own generation starts creeping up to this age bracket ourselves.  There has always been a phenomenon of older workers trying something new but the trend had hit such a steep high in the baby boomer retirement picture over the past couple decades.  So you have to wonder what about the boomers and Gen X makes them and us to want to start new careers so late in life.

Part of it has to do with the way business has functioned in the last few decades.  In our parents’ working years, the norm was to work for the same company and be a “company man” for 40-50 years, get that gold watch and retire with a handsome retirement package.  That formula just doesn’t work, or exist below the C-suite, anymore.

For one thing, retirement plans supported by employers have become a thing of the past. There’s plenty of funds matching and other options employers offer in their benefits, but its fickle and can end if the company changes, merges, etc. Savings for retirement have plummeted as the financial demands of life are all most people can keep up with.  So the concept of working on into what used to be called retirement years is now a given if for no other reason than financial necessity and a shit country who disregards the aged.

The model I just laid out of employees staying with the same company for their entire adult lives is simply no longer feasible or a reality for all but a few in the modern workforce.  Most boomers have worked for dozens of companies in their adult lives so their retirement packages, if they exist at all, are small.  Part of this can be attributed to the entrepreneurial spirit of baby boomers.  But, there has been a discernable shift in the way American business works as well.  Companies don’t like the idea of keeping employees that long.  Add to that the fact that so many companies have gone out of business, been absorbed in huge corporate buyouts, or undergone drastic downsizing that by the time most boomers hit their 50s and 60s, the idea of keeping one single career moving forward is pretty hard to sustain.

But, these negative explanations are not all there is to why baby boomers are starting over this late in life.  Boomers never did accept that the rules of life or aging applied to them.  They are ambitious, adventurous, and willing to strike on new paths with much less fear than previous generations.  As boomers have faced some of the challenges of the economy, social upheavals, and the modern business world, they have responded aggressively by starting businesses or changing their careers entirely later in life.  And they are just as willing to pay their dues and stick with that new career until they are as successful as they were when they were 30.

Many workers find a line of work and learn they can pay the bills and raise the kids early in life but they do not follow their dream career at that time.  So when the time in life comes that the kids are out of the nest, the house is paid off, and the adventure of living has settled down (somewhat), many baby boomers see that as the chance to finally throw out that boring old career and go after their dream career once and for all.  The same career change and entrepreneurial light shines on my Gen X.

It’s inspirational to see someone in that stage of life setting the standard in not settling for anything less than realizing their dream by launching a new career, doing what they’ve always wanted to do – no matter their age.  Who can fault boomers from wanting that kind of gratification in finding joy and success in a career that fulfills their passions?  So, Jah bless the late in life boomers who go for the brass ring in their golden years.  They will be an inspiration for many coming behind them, like myself and close colleagues, to be as bold about our/their lives as well. This is a more positive way to look at the fact that all of us are struggling and boomers work because they have to, unlike in most other countries who hold the aged in higher regard than we do here in the US. The children and the aged are taken care of first. Sad, but disgustingly true for the US of Asshats. We throw away people that have outserved their usefulness, but we can carefully handle and million-dollar Lloyd’s insure hair, a voice, or someone’s ass. True shit, literally and figuratively.

Happy retirement, folks…at 80, 90 years old! Try not to die the next day.

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