Prospecting for Work in Later Life.

Are You a Next Decade Enterpriser?

To explore this very question, on November 1st, 2017 I will be presenting a two-hour seminar at the Oakville Public Library in the newly renovated tech focused Iroquois Ridge Branch.

Though it is open to all, the library program that this presentation falls under, the target audience is for those of age 55-plus, which captures a very wide span of an older demographic. The last time I did a public seminar on this subject however, most of the audience ranged 60 – 70.

What is highly observable about this notion of working in later life, is that over the last five years it has become more prominent and those in their late 50’s and early 60’s are starting to take a more proactive look at this. While there are those who are still working full time in this age band, the narrative runs along two lines.

One line is that many say they are tired out, and “can’t wait to retire”. In some cases, it is obvious by their further comments that their career is on cruise control. The second line is, that knowing “I don’t want to work full time at some point, I still want to stay active or challenged in some way”. At this point the question becomes, what are my options? Very often that question is muffled under the wrapping of other self-doubt questions such as “what if no one wants me either because of my age or because I’ve only done the same thing for too long?”

Change the age narrative, it’s less about age, more about stage

One of the first things to make clear is that I don’t do retirement coaching, but what I do is ask people to start seeing their later life as being a “spiral of transitions” in their ongoing life course. Retirement, as is still often presented, is not a destination. While there are many who would rather just take themselves off the radar than have to go through that “job search” process again, there are those who are ready to invest in the process of re-framing later life in a new creative way. Others are just stuck, scared at the thought, looking at an empty canvas.

Older adults are not a homogeneous group – they are as diverse as any younger members in society. This “looking at an empty canvas” or that uncertain sense of direction has been expressed to me in varying ways by people as young as 20 or 60.  What we have increasingly more in common across generations is that over the next decade, as market needs shift and technologies such as artificial intelligence advance, traditional employment systems and personal life courses will continue to reconstruct.

Whatever age we are, this will require the curious, creative and collaborative mind-set of a “Next Decade Enterpriser. If the promise of greater longevity endures and the prospect of working later in life maintains, our relationship to work – what we do & how we engage in it – will become constantly regenerative in process and episodic in nature. We need to reconsider our definitions of what work is and what various life changes, such as our health condition, can interrupt our plans at any stage.

Returning to the target audience of those 55-plus, it’s typically a combination of need and desire to work longer and differently, to stay engaged and/or to supplement income streams for financing their longevity. What my Oakville Library seminar will present is what the range of work options are and how to integrate those into other parts of a later life course, offering a practical tool to help map possibilities in a life portfolio based on current and future life situations.

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