Billy Graham once said “When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.”
We all have the tendency to put a lot of emphasis on saving enough money for retirement, and rightly so. Money is definitely important, but I believe that there is way more to retirement and late career employment than a math problem. We tend to be so focused on the “financial aspect” of it and on numbers, that we lose sight of what we wanted all that money for in the first place. Through my published research on late career employment success, I came face-to-face with those matters that late career professionals consider as crucial when approaching their next chapter; and money was not it.
Let me break it down for you. Many late professionals nowadays decide to remain in the workforce and approach secondary opportunity of employment. There are myriad reasons behind this delay trend. However, with longer life spans, an American who retires at 65 could be retired for well over 20 years. This longevity requires people to have larger retirement savings — and many do not. Meeting the financial demands of today, for most Americans, means giving up on saving for retirement and tomorrow. GoBankingRates asked Americans how much money they have saved for retirement and found that over 56% of respondents have less than $10,000 saved. More specifically, one-third of Americans report they have no retirement savings, whereas 23% have less than $10,000 saved. This is found to happen for women more than men. But the troubles don’t stop here. Apparently, there is a deep generational mismatch between retirement savings and financial stability. According to GoBankingRates, Millennials are 40% more likely to not have retirement savings than Gen Xers and 50% more likely than people age 55 and over. About half of Gen Xers are making a significant effort to save for retirement ― 48.2 percent have saved over $10,000, including 26.7 percent who have saved $100,000 or more. On the other hand, Boomers and seniors are 85% more likely than Gen Xers to have $300,000 or more in retirement accounts and 4.6 times more likely than millennials to have saved this amount.
A recent Gallup poll of 718 adults reported that approximately 3 out of 4 Americans plan to work beyond traditional retirement age on at least a part-time basis. The poll targeted Boomers 50+ currently in the American workforce. So, if most Boomers did a good job saving up for retirement, why are over 75% planning to keep working? There must be more to it than money. Now, we are not saying that “money doesn’t matter” and that people should make wreckless decisions in their late career because money is not the main motivator of late career choices. What we are saying though, is that when approaching transitioning, money and the financial aspect of it matter only up to a certain extent. What struck me when conducting my research on retirees and secondary employment opportunities, was the fact that most educational trainings, support systems, workshops and events on the market for late professionals approaching their next chapter, exclusively focus on money and financial planning. But what about what really matters? What about all the rest? And if anything, what is “all the rest”?
I believe there are several things that matter and are more important (or at least just as important) as money to a happy, fulfilling “next chapter”. Based on my published research and on the main future “trends” for late career employment, there seem to be different factors that consistently contribute to a late professional’s transitions success: relationships, openness to experience, health, time are just a few of the pillars or a successful transition.
When we think about health, I want you to reflect on this. Having millions might make your life in retirement easier, but it doesn’t take millions to create good next chapter for yourself and the people around you. I want you to also think about openness to new experiences, meaning curiosity, willingness to “do something”, the feeling of lust that motivates us to look for the “what now” answer instead of the “I am done” response; and money can’t buy this. Let’s talk about relationships now, and I want you to reflect on what David Rockefeller told us, “I am convinced that material things can contribute a lot to making one’s life pleasant, but, basically, if you do not have very good friends and relatives who matter to you, life will be really empty and sad and material things cease to be important.” What more can I say?
Last but definitely not least, I want you to think about one of the key aspects of successful transitioning: time. Carl Sandberg once said, “Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent.” My grandma used to tell me all the time, “time is the only thing that you can never get back, so use it wisely and make it count”. When approaching late career employment and retirement, you have the perfect chance to make those important decisions that will make your next chapter the best yet. You must pilot this plane called life and not be a passenger to it. I believe this will take you a lot further than a few extra bucks in your bank account.
I believe in the need to opening the door to a tailor-made life in the third age (50 plus age), with a plan that allows you to make smart choices today for your tomorrow. I am dedicating my professional career in helping and empowering people in the transitioning process and enabling them to find their best path after exiting their primary career. If it is something that’s relevant to you, I invite you to contact me. Let’s explore your next stage together.
Dr. Ylenia Ossola