In 2035, the youngest boomers will be 71. The oldest will be 89. What is it going to be like to look back from that vantage point? Hopefully, most of us will have figured out how to keep working as long as possible -- certainly to 70, when the maximum Social Security benefits kick in, but probably longer.
Boomers are sending a signal to the new economy: we aren't 'moving over' to cede our careers to younger generations. Retirement at 65 is either unaffordable or irrelevant to a generation that either must keep working to survive, and/or wants to keep working to serve a meaningful and purposeful life.
Boomers with the assets and support to retire comfortably represent a smaller and smaller segment of the aging population in our country. Hammered by the Great Recession, reduced pension plans, rising healthcare costs, corporate downsizing, as well as by ageism and reduced opportunities for employment, boomers are going to be increasingly squeezed financially.
After 35 years in the same business, is it possible to turn on a dime and make a go of it in some entirely new field? The answer of course is "yes," but when you've been "downsized" or otherwise unceremoniously dumped by your company, it is still an incredibly unsettling and disorienting experience.
For those of us over 50, that new dance is Entrepreneurship; and it's a dicey new dance for us if we've spent most of our careers in the predictable, stable and familiar corporate environment. Even if we have attained senior management ranks, the prospect of taking a chance on our own venture, depending entirely on ourselves, and forging into unknown territory is uncomfortable at best.
Encore.org is preparing to honor social entrepreneurs over 60 at next week's Encore Conference. Through recognizing these Boomer pioneers, I believe we will begin to define a better sense of what our generation is capable of in the coming decades, and, most importantly, to better persuade the rest of society just how important our continued leadership is going to be for everyone's collective future.
There are usually two inspirations for great inventions: 1) The Epiphany, where a brilliant idea appears seemingly out of nowhere in our consciousness (and if we're smart, we'll write it down and figure out a way to make it happen), or 2) The Inspiration, where we meet or listen to someone, or witness an event that fires us up sufficiently that we just can't get the idea out of our minds.