8 Ways Baby Boomers Changed the World

Growing up a baby boomer allowed for a life filled with exciting new discoveries and previously unimagined advancements. Here’s a look at the impact, good and bad, this generation has had on the world:

Career advancement. Often times this generation has been equated with people focused on themselves and their careers, valuing their own satisfaction first and foremost. Boomers have sometimes been categorized as obsessed with their individual importance in the world, and always in pursuit of new and better toys. Some people outside of the boomer ranks may experience a hint of jealousy seeing how incredibly fortunate many boomers have been, successfully riding the IPO crazes and capitalizing on various bubbles.

Screen time. Baby boomers were the first generation for which the television became a central part of their lives. They were able to witness news as it happened and enjoy diverse entertainment never before available in such a medium. However, baby boomers were also the first to be pervasively bombarded by advertising, which quickly capitalized upon the captive television audience. Everything from what you should wear to how you should smell to what should be on your dinner table was pounded into receptive and somewhat defenseless heads.

A captive audience. Advertising helped to fuel a competitive desire to better one’s situation in life, but also often depicted an unattainable ideal. According to author Laura Lee Carter in her book “Find Your Reason to Be Here,” unlike parents who compared themselves with friends and neighbors, boomers were exposed to constant advertisements depicting the lifestyles of the richest, most famous Americans with whom they compare themselves. Obsessively striving to be like those fortunate few in the top 10 percent of the population can be frustrating when you just don’t make the cut.

Unequal society. The baby boomers made advancements in many areas, but that does not mean it is now any easier to make a living. Some 85 percent of those who describe themselves as middle class say it is more difficult now than it was ten years ago to maintain their standard of living, according to a 2012 Pew Research Center survey. Since 2000 the middle class has shrunk in size, shed income and wealth and lost some of its faith in the future, according to the report.

More debt. Being a baby boomer does not automatically mean wealth or financial security. The credit card economy took root among a generation that preferred to have things now rather than save and wait until they could afford them. The parents of baby boomers tended to save up for purchases, while baby boomers used credit cards in droves. Although boomers enjoy the highest income of any age group, they believe it is harder to get ahead than it was ten years ago, Pew found. Despite their great strides in the workplace, boomers rate their overall quality of life as lower than other generations.

Working longer. Job competition is fierce among this group partly due to the sheer number of members, but also because of multiple economic upheavals, changes in the nature of work due to increased automation and movement of some jobs off shore. It is increasingly difficult for those over 50 to find employment. Once they lose or leave a job, it generally takes older workers much longer to secure new positions than their younger counterparts.

Living longer. Although average life expectancies continue to raise, those typically longer lives will be burdened with rising health care costs. More money going to health care expenses makes for hard decisions when it comes to basic things like food, rent and living the retirement lifestyle we want.

Entering retirement. Being born a baby boomer has not necessarily been an easy road. Along with the wild success stories are many sad stories of difficult times. The oldest baby boomers have already begun to turn 65. This generation that changed the world in many ways is now about to leave their stamp on retirement.

From my US News & World blog. Dave Bernard is the author of “I Want To Retire! Essential Considerations for the Retiree to Be”. Although not yet retired, he focuses on identifying and understanding the essential components of a fulfilling and meaningful retirement. He shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement-Only The Beginning.

The Impact of Baby Boomers working Past 65

Ever since the Social Security program was created back in 1935 we have come to accept 65 as the age we can expect to retire. Many companies followed suit, and 65 was typically viewed as the end of the road for corporate careers and the trigger for pensions, gold watches, andretirement parties.

But today, reaching age 65 does not automatically mean it’s time to retire. The promise of a relaxing and stress-free retirement has been replaced in many cases by the reality that people are not prepared to retire. Some employees cannot afford to retire or are just plain afraid to retire. Age 65 is now just another year in an ongoing career, and retirement has no set time frame.

The reasons people are extending their work life are varied. For some individuals it is not a matter of choice but rather survival. Many Americans do not have sufficient funds to support a retirement life, and therefore must continue to work. Other workers find the interaction and engagement with co-workers to be a major benefit of continuing their job. Many people experience a feeling of worth and self esteem resulting from the important role they play at the company. Finding such recognition outside of the working world may not be that easy.

Staying in the workforce past traditional retirement age will have broad implications for employers, younger workers, and the economy. Here’s a look at how delayed retirement is likely to impact the workplace:

Younger workers may have fewer opportunities. When existing employees stay on the job longer there will be fewer opportunities available for younger workers in search of a career. In an already tight job market this could prove frustrating to younger job candidates who are forced to wait in the wings. In some cases there may be enough space for older and younger workers to work together, and both may benefit from mentoring efforts. But if there is only room for one, employers may be forced to choose between retaining an older worker and hiring a younger one.

Challenges as younger supervisors manage older workers. Not all older workers are comfortable with reporting to someone significantly younger. New bosses tend to come with new ideas and changes that can be met with resistance from the existing staff. It is important that both the older employee and the younger manager work together and learn to communicate effectively if they hope to make this situation a success. Progress will require sensitivity, building trust, and mutual respect.

Corporate culture conflicts. It is not uncommon for companies to have to reinvent themselves due to changes in the competitive landscape or economy. Long-term employees have generally adapted to the existing corporate culture, but how will they fit in if the business needs to go in a different direction? Companies need to be fast on their feet to survive and cannot afford to be slowed down unnecessarily. Older workers set in their ways can make an already difficult situation even more challenging.

In addition, older workers tend to have different motivations in the workforce. While younger employees are driven by money and the ability to rise in the corporate ranks, older workers often want more emotional rewards, such as feeling needed, learning new skills, and contributing to the common good. If you want to get the most out of employees, you need to speak their language and understand what makes them tick.

Additional costs of maintaining older workers. Health care expenses are on the rise, and older employees often cost companies more to provide coverage. But on the flip side, older workers do not have dependents because their families have largely been raised, so that cost is eliminated. But it’s still not cheap to provide for the insurance needs of elderly workers.

From my US News & World blog. Dave Bernard is the author of Are You Just Existing and Calling it a Life?, which offers guidelines to discover your personal passion and live a life of purpose. Not yet retired, Dave has begun his due diligence to plan for a fulfilling retirement. With a focus on the non-financial aspects of retiring, he shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement–Only the Beginning.

Are You Ready for Retirement?

Taken from my new book I  Want To Retire! 

I want to retire! I am done with this career thing and more than ready to take a look at what life has to offer beyond work. It has been a good run but enough is enough and I need to get out while I am still young enough to enjoy my second act. I am ready to commence doing what I really want to do for as long as I choose to do it. I hope that retirement will be my moment to focus on what I am most passionate about, what inspires me, what excites me, what turns me on, and what makes me want to jump out of bed to start the day. It will also be my time to step back from the hectic and try my hand at a more peaceful relaxing existence. I am so ready to retire.

Many of us have likely entertained similar thoughts. And if you are middle age or beyond it is even possible your focus borders on the obsessive. Does the possibility of freedom to pursue your personal passions and pleasures tempt you to your very core? Do you find yourself expectantly hoping for that day when you will finally retire from the working world to your own personal nirvana? If you have been caught up in your career with its many demands over these many years, the dream of escaping to retirement may be the single most important thing that kept you going through the hard times.

The good news is if you can commit yourself to doing the ever important planning and preparation for the retirement life you want to live, there is no reason you – Mr. or Ms. Retiree to Be – should not be able to experience just that scenario. But if you want to arrive on schedule ready to roll, it is never too early to begin your preparations.

The ideal and very personal retirement life we ultimately live will be different for each of us. There is no cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all model guaranteed to lead us to and guide us through a fulfilling retirement. Each of us is driven by different motivations and our own distinct personal passions. A wide range of variables and life experiences have combined over the course of our lives to make us into the being that we are, for better or worse. And because of those variations we face the reality that though we may seek a common goal of living a happy retired life, the final definition of that happiness can differ from person to person. My retirement Shangri la may be nothing like the vision of your perfect post-work paradise. Likewise, what I need to do to realize my personal retirement bliss may be nowhere near what you require to achieve the same. There is no absolute right or wrong way to live retirement. In the end we need to each discover those essential ingredients that will make up our personal fulfilling retirement and plot a course to navigate successfully to its shore.

How many of us have given any meaningful thought to our pending retirement? Beyond some vague concept of a life after work we don’t tend to overly concern ourselves with the details. Until recently, I had not honestly contemplated my exit from the working world beyond occasionally imagining myself sitting on a sunny beach, cocktail in hand while I listen to the calming waves, reveling in my new freedom and the knowledge that there was absolutely nothing I had to be doing. And isn’t that the way many think of retirement? Don’t we typically view our second act as more of an escape from rather than a journey to?

I think that many of us assume that somehow it will all work out only to discover we are wrong. You need to prepare for retirement just as you do any other major step in your life. Just like the reluctant retiree, we have to learn on the job if you will. I think it is important to be open to the possibilities rather than focusing on the limitations. You do have some choices if you keep your mind open.

For most of us the tremendous demands of daily life from bill paying to family raising, from problem solving to nest egg building suck up all our energy. It is not too surprising that the focus remains on here and now rather than what our future may hold. Yet if we let life continue to pass us by without taking the necessary steps to prepare, if we expect to just suddenly arrive in retirement where everything will take care of itself, we may find ourselves sadly mistaken.

How many of us can honestly say that we have taken steps to plan and prepare for retirement? What have we done to understand and address the many variables that will mix and match into that life we will realize beyond work? I would venture to say that most of us think of retirement as off in the distance, somewhere down the road, nothing to worry about right now. We are still young and have time – retirement is for old people. But have you looked in the mirror recently? The clock keeps ticking and before we know it we are looking back on more years than we foresee going forward. For those who will retire at age sixty five, retirement can extend twenty or thirty years. If we hope to fill those years with a meaningful and fulfilling life the sooner we start preparing ourselves the better. In my own case I realized that outside of regularly contributing to my 401k plan I had made no concrete preparation for retirement. I was just as guilty as anyone of not looking ahead. I was just as guilty of not preparing myself for the retiree I would be. And if I continued down this path, I risk potentially ending up in just as much trouble as others who follow a similar course.

My advice is to plan, plan, plan for everything, and then realize you have no idea what is going to happen and that is OK. Plans are meant to evolve, be discarded, and replaced with other plans. Your retirement will be like a blank canvas. You’ll buy all the paints and brushes but will have no idea what it will look like until you start applying the paint.

I Want To Retire! Essential Considerations for the Retiree to Be is available now from Amazon.com in Kindle or paperback.