Make Your Retirement a Healthy One

Guest Post by Joseph Byrne, Founder and CEO of EmpoweredAge.com, a service that connects highly-skilled retirees to part-time or short-term consulting projects in various industries. Below, Mr. Byrne offers his insight into working after retirement and the gap he aims to fill.

Our idea of retirement has changed with each passing generation. Many people count down the days until they can relax with no time-constraints, play golf, visit family and friends, and take the trip they have put off for years. Others find their true passion in their work, committed to continue working as long as their health allows. Still others look forward to volunteering, taking on a second-career, or pursuing a passion project that has eluded them. Often, these visions change during our retirement years after finishing the initial “retirement honeymoon” phase. Retirement can have many different visions to different people; but it does not have to have just one.

As the baby boomer generation is retiring in record numbers (some 10,000 per day), there are millions who are contemplating their next move. Financially, many retirees are not prepared to completely discontinue a regular income, but do not need their full annual salary to feel comfortable. For many, working in retirement is not a burden that interferes with more desirable activities. On the contrary, working in a capacity that allows retirees flexibility, the chance to keep their skills sharp, an opportunity to maintain continued connection with colleagues, all while earning additional retirement income, is a highly fulfilling and prosperous endeavor.

According to research by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave, 47% of retirees say they are either working or plan to work in retirement. This figure increases with people who are actually still working full-time: 72% say they plan to work in some fashion in retirement. Millions of retirees with years of experience, contacts, and expertise are underutilized; their knowledge simply sits on the sidelines. Part-time, value-added work opportunities seem to only exist for the select few via personal networks.

As I spoke with many highly-educated and highly-trained retirees, this stalemate seemed to be a common thread. There was certainly no shortage of useful experience, and furthermore, after a number of conversations with Human Resources representatives, many firms actually sought out this arrangement to help complete short-term and/or particularly challenging projects. It was after a number of these interactions that my team and I decided to create Empowered Age. We formed our hypothesis around this inefficiency and our directive was simple: bridge the gap between retirees and firms who desire to tap into their wealth of experience. After some market research and testing, Empoweredage.com was born.

There are a number of websites that cater to retirees looking to work after their “formal” retirement. Many of these services, however, list mostly hourly or manual labor openings. Empowered Age aims to take this a step further, targeting retirees with years of highly skilled experience that can provide exceptional value to a growing firm. Many of these arrangements are projects to help launch a new product, oversee a new office opening, or advise on a new sales strategy.

In our experience, the feedback we have collected has overwhelmingly confirmed our suspicions. First, that there are a significant number of firms looking to engage in this sort of employment arrangement. But more importantly, the retirees or semi-retirees who are eager to fill these roles report a deep renewal of value, continued social status that was familiar during their full-time working years, and a satisfaction in using their knowledge to help drive growth in their organization. In addition, although we did not initially anticipate, firms have been eager to support initiatives that drive inclusion and diversity as it relates to age. This has been an unexpected by-product that we proudly boast.

Moreover, there are encouraging studies that suggest working later in life – and past the “typical” retirement age – can actually be a significant health benefit. This New York Times Article quotes Columbia and Harvard University Professors regarding the mental and physical health benefits of working in retirement as well as the delay of negative retirement consequences such as fatigue and loss of concentration. In fact, researchers from Cornell and Syracuse Universities found that people who continued to work after formal retirement grew their network of family and friends by 25 percent! On the other hand, social networks of retired non-working people actually shrank during the 5-year study period. The study continues, “Work offers a routine and purpose, a reason for getting up in the morning. The workplace is a social environment, a community.”

In this article for The Today Show, author Jean Chatzky writes that researchers from Oregon State University studied a large group of individuals age 50 and over. The researchers found that people who worked past the age of 65 had an 11% lower chance of death from all causes. Ms. Chatzky continues to quote a survey of 80,000 participants from the National Health Interview all over the age of 65: “People in the workforce (particularly those with white-collar jobs) were significantly more likely to report their health was good, very good or excellent than those who were unemployed or retired.” In the countless hours of research we have conducted as noted above, this completely matches what we have found.

Whatever your idea of retirement may be, planning will be an important part. Whether that be financially, geographically, professionally, or socially, be aware to engage in activities that provide value to you. Look for opportunities that benefit your intellectual as well as your physical health. Wherever your journey takes you, we wish you health and success. If part-time consulting work is in that journey, Empowered Age will help you along the way. Visit us at Empowered Age for more information.

Joseph can be reached at joseph.byrne@empoweredage.com. Please follow on twitter @EmpoweredAge.

Dealing With the Unexpected in Retirement

Life is full of surprises – some good and others not so. Whatever fate has in store each of us must find a way to deal with what comes our way. We play the cards we are dealt, learning as we go, hopefully not too often repeating the same mistakes. Our education might be straight forward seasoned with a healthy dose of common sense. Or we might need to call upon a certain inner strength to guide us safely through troubled waters.

Some surprises are less-than earth shattering in significance. They present themselves as mere pains in the butt, distractions along an otherwise pretty smooth road. We expect to have to deal with many situations in life. But what about those unexpected out-of-the-blue experiences we don’t see coming?

Did you know that your passport expiration date must be at least 90 days beyond the date of your scheduled return from a trip? I learned this recently while in line at San Francisco International airport. With luggage in tow my wife and I were blissfully expecting to depart a few hours hence on a month long escape to Switzerland. It was not to be. “You can’t travel on this passport.” I was informed I had no alternative but to go to the local federal passport building to apply for a same day passport. As luck had it the next day was Labor Day a wonderful holiday that happens to shut down all government agencies. Another day lost.

We could have bemoaned our situation but instead made the best of the cards we had been dealt. We were in San Francisco, a spot travelers from around the world hungrily journey to. So we found a last minute deal online and booked a hotel for two nights. We then proceeded to walk the town journeying to beautiful Noe Valley, touring ostentatious and glitzy Nob Hill, exploring the latest pizza hot spot in SOMA, and just kicking it in The City. Our experience at the federal building went unexpectedly smoothly and we were soon on our way arriving in Zurich a few days late but safely and with my brand new 10-year passport in hand.

No matter what age navigating the unexpected can be challenging. And nothing gets easier as you get older.

What would you do if in your early fifties you suddenly found yourself out of a job – right sized out or phased out or just plain laid off? It can be difficult to come to terms with the fact a lifetime spent building and honing your skills is suddenly deemed worthless. With companies laser focused on cutting costs regardless of the impact on lives this undesirable situation is a stark reality for many. And your options are not always many. Some are forced to move into a lower status (and paying) role to make ends meet. Others find themselves pushed into some kind of early retirement, underfunded and unexpected with an uncertain future.

Recent weather extremes have rattled many a cage. From the epic flooding in Texas to the path of destruction left by hurricane Irma to fires that rage once again across California, many are learning to expect the unexpected from Mother Nature. How do you cope with the total destruction of your home? What words of consolation are there for the frustration felt having to recover from the ravages of forces beyond your control?

How we deal with unexpected events can pave the road to our future happiness or lack thereof. No one can wave a magic wand and make everything better. But we can try to make the best of a bad situation. Life events can feel overwhelming but maybe less so if we try to actively do something about it.

How can we make our individual challenge less so? What is within our individual power to impact our situation? We don’t have to do it all on our own. Family and friends are there to lean on and provide support. Getting through unexpected times calls for us to utilize all of our tools, our contacts, our networks and whatever else might help.

Not all unexpected events are negative. More easily dealt with are joyous announcements of pending weddings or births. Far less intimidating are ecstatic calls received when kids describing the new “perfect job” they just landed. Uplifting are those times when your tomato crop exceeds your wildest expectations. There are plenty of good unexpected surprises in life.

We can expect the unexpected to be a mix of positive moments as well as challenges. Hopefully the scale tips in our favor. How we handle these ups and downs will define the person we are and the quality of the retired life we live. Good luck to us all. And while you have a moment why not double check the expiration of that passport of yours. No need to unnecessarily add stress to your next airport encounter.

LoveBeingRetired.com

Where to Find the Best Retirement Advice

If you hope to enjoy the best retirement possible you need to plan and prepare for your time in the sun. Waiting until after you retire is too late. By then there is little you can do to correct or fine tune any problem areas. A little homework now can help pave the way to a smoother road when you ultimately exit the working masses.

When it comes to retirement planning there are plenty of areas that require careful consideration. After all we are potentially talking about the next 20 to 30 years. How much will you need to live the life you hope to? Where will you live? What’s the best course of action when it comes to healthcare coverage? How do you stay active and engaged? Is there a place for part-time work in your second act? Will you be bored? Where will you find meaning in your days lived?

With so much at stake, it makes sense to investigate all possible sources for guidance.

Parents

Mom and dad lived in a different time. What worked for them might not be quite what you are looking for. However their experiences can prove enlightening. Steps they took to migrate from full time work to full time retirement may be worthy of consideration. Mistakes they made can be illuminated and hopefully avoided. Sharing those aspects of retired living they most love may stir your imagination and guide you toward similar successes. The ideal retirement envisioned by our parents is not necessarily perfect for us. But what they have learned along the way just might make our personal journey less bumpy.

Kids

Our children may be able to shine a useful light upon our retirement. They have seen the impact of your career on your and their lives. Other than you no one knows better the stress and strains endured to make it in the world. And our kids know what really makes our clocks tick. Who knows better the satisfaction dad felt dragging everyone on weekend driving treks? Or the joy mom experienced when her hand made placemats were the topic of praise at a family reunion? First hand experiences with our life’s ups and downs make them pretty decent coaches. Our kids can provide a good sounding board to bounce ideas off. They want their parents to be happy. And although their perspective is from a younger generation their insights may assist in our efforts.

Friends

Our friends are typically more than willing to offer what they feel is useful advice. The thing is when it comes to retirement they are often in the same boat as we. They are unsure exactly what to do in their next life chapter. They are learning as they go. It may well be we end up helping each other plot a course as we work through strategies and make adjustments. After all what are friends for? 

Bloggers

Retirement bloggers are another source of useful retirement planning information. In addition to writing most are engaged in their own personal journey, openly sharing hits and misses experienced along the way. Useful insights often come from readers commenting on articles read. Their first hand input add texture to the retirement picture painted by bloggers.

LoveBeingRetired has been rolling since 2010. Since then we have enjoyed a few favorite sites:

Bob Lowry shares his retirement journey on his site A Satisfying Retirement offering insights learned while figuring out the best most meaningful way to live life as a retiree.

Retirement: A Full-Time Job immerses readers in the adventures lived by Sydney Lagier who retired at 44 and has not looked back since.

If you prefer an audio experience, tune into Retirement Journeys hosted by Ted Carr who shares an ever expanding collection of podcasts from authors, bloggers and people navigating their retirement journeys.

Experts

AARP, authors, pundits and those in the know offer another avenue to explore when it comes to preparing for your second act. With so many choices available see what friends and family recommend.

Retirees

If you want to learn about retirement, talk with a retiree. Rarely will you find someone more willing to discuss the ups and downs of retirement than someone already living the life. First of all they have the time. Secondly a captive audience interested in what they have to say will be a positive in their day. Get ready for lots of details and plenty of stories. But what better way to glimpse what lies ahead? Researching what it will be like to be retired is all well and good. But until you find yourself immersed in the role, 24 by 7, you cannot really understand what is involved. Listen up to first hand encounters to learn what it’s all about.

As you prepare to navigate the retirement jungle it makes sense to gather as much information as possible. Get all the facts. Look at your situation from all angles. Listen to advice offered by others. But in the end your retirement is your personal journey. What works for others is rarely a blueprint for your successful retirement. Make plans according to how you hope to live. Trust your gut and be willing to make changes along the way. Accept there will be ups and down but try to stay positive. This is your time to do what you want to do when you want to do it. If that is not a good recipe for happiness I am not sure what is!

LoveBeingRetired.com