10/16/2010 11:52 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Boomers on Retirement: 'Hell No, We Won't Go!'

Baby Boomers aren't remotely ready to stop working, and we resent the endless calls for us to do so. Day by day, the resistance movement is growing, and our slogan may well be the one many of us once used to protest the war in Vietnam: "Hell no, we won't go!"

Loyal readers will know that I'm writing a new book called RIPE, which will help boomers answer the question that's on our minds: "What's next?"

In last week's column, I said that the simple answer would be "work." Research backs this up. Four out of five baby boomers will continue to work. McKinsey Global Institute surveyed 5,100 American households to better understand boomers' current attitude toward work. "Our research shows that boomers want to continue working -- as much as 85 percent say 'likely' and 40 percent say 'extremely likely.'"

When I started connecting the dots of this emerging trend, I had a sense that it was about more than simply continuing to work. After all, my generation was now talking about looking for stimulating new work and more satisfying ways of working.

I went back and looked at the notes from the interviews I'd done with my peers. Reading through the transcripts, some stories suddenly stood out from the rest. There was the management consultant who went back to school to earn a Ph.D. in marine biology, the publisher who became a playwright, the serial entrepreneur who returned to revitalize his first company, and the academic who discovered a rich, new vein of research.

I realized that something unprecedented is happening. We are approaching this new phase of our careers with the confidence of professionals and the zest of beginners -- and, in the process, reaping enormous rewards.

We are becoming what I call "ripe."


Next Saturday, I'll begin to share stories of people who have ripened. In the meantime, please keep writing about what's going on in your life. Comments are welcome! And you can always contact me through my website. I look forward to being part of a lively conversation.

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