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Boomers Are Reinventing Retirement — & You Can, Too

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Encore.org founder Marc Freedman says that aging boomers are inventing a new phase of work, and it’s one of the most significant trends of the 21st century. Instead of fading into the sunset to enjoy piña coladas by the pool, they’re choosing to stay active and pursue second careers.

“We need to create a new stage between the end of the middle years and the beginning of retirement and old age,” Freedman says, “an ‘encore’ stage of life characterized by purpose, contribution and commitment.”

What does an encore career look like and how are wahves joining the movement?

  • Thinking “what’s next” vs. “what’s last.” Active boomers are foregoing traditional retirement because they’re not done yet. They want to stay engaged and make a difference. A MetLife Foundation study found that as many as 31 million people aged 44 to 70 are interested in making the leap into more meaningful encore careers. Many of these second careers include teleworking opportunities.
  • Seeking work-life balance. Boomers want to work longer, but they want to do it on their own terms. They’re interested in travel, personal growth, spending time with family and volunteering. Work-at-home arrangements that give them flexible hours are a perfect solution.
  • Leading healthier lives. Research shows that those who continue to work after retirement stay healthier, live longer and lead more fulfilling lives. The wahve lifestyle can contribute to that well-being.
  • Leaving a legacy. Boomers want to leave their mark on the world and influence the lives of young people. This idea of “generativity” is what propels them to consider new opportunities and ways to remain vital and active.

Writing in Time magazine, Laura L. Carstensen, director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, observes, “If they stay engaged as they age, boomers may spark a second social revolution.” Boomers, she says, “could become an army of millions of gray-haired people, better educated than any previous generation, armed with unprecedented financial resources and decades of experience, ready to solve the practical problems of life.”

Put another way: The wahves have arrived, and they are ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work.

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