Ha! Boomers are supposed to be reinvention experts. Why? Because instead of riding off into the golden years sunset, we continue to work, start new business ventures or change careers. Somehow that makes us experts?
Not buying it. Just like millennials who are struggling to deal with the cards they’ve been dealt, baby boomers too are adjusting to the reality of their situation. If the company you work for wants you to retire but you still need the income, you become a teacher. Or start that business you always dreamed of owning. Or drive a school bus. Or become a big box store greeter.
Boomers are not so much reinventing themselves as they are recalibrating their expectations of what the aging experience is going to be for them. The percentage of people 55 and older in the workforce back in 1993 was 29%. Fast forward to 2013 and that number has jumped to more than 40%. Sure, the big wave of the oldest boomers has a lot to do with that increase, but changing attitudes towards retirement may be an even bigger factor.
The whole gold watch send-off seems so anachronistic now, and it might have something to do with the changing attitudes toward work itself. The parents of baby boomers may have felt like they were marking time until the day that they could quit and hit the shuffleboard courts. Work wasn’t their passion as much as it was a means to an end. I’m generalizing (as always), but most boomers enjoyed their careers and liked the idea that they were really good at it or that they made a valuable contribution. You don’t just shut that off one day and hang up your toolbelt.
I like to think that what boomers are going to do in the years ahead is redefine rather reinvent. And that makes sense when you think about it, because baby boomers have been redefining things since the day we came into the world. Education, music, art, communication, politics, you name it --- there is no field or endeavor that has not felt the effect of the baby boomer revolution. We were – we are – products of our time. The prosperous years after WWII afforded us the opportunity to make a unique mark on society, so it should be no surprise that we continue to exhibit that behavior. Just don’t make us out to be reinvention experts. We’re just reacting to the times the same way we always have.