Retirement is such an ugly word. In fact, I think it’s a ridiculous concept. Just hear me out. If you work at a job long enough, you eventually get to stop working or are told you will stop working; you get a party, go home, and sit back and watch television for your remaining years. Or you play golf every day. But, as is often said, you can only play so much golf.
But honestly, that concept hasn’t always worked out in the past, and according to a new report, The Wall Street Journal’s Greg Ip notes that no matter what the government is saying about the economy, which few understand anyway, 62% of American adults are surviving paycheck to paycheck. The key word here is surviving. Many of the 332m+ Americans in our nation today are barely getting by. They aren’t planning to ride into the sunset to enjoy the fruits of their lifetime labor. They are just trying to pay bills. Ip’s report says that 88% of millennials, 91% of Gen Xers, and 86% of boomers- report retirement-saving hurdles. Hurdles, in this case, simply means they haven’t saved anything for the future, which is getting harder and harder to imagine. They have electric cars, cool houses, vacation homes, and lots of the latest techno stuff. But they have no savings.
High school graduates must face the fact that buying a starter home is almost an unreachable goal and that College and childcare costs are skyrocketing. It’s more than a dilemma, the way I see it. And I see and hear these concerns every day in my role as a Master Business Coach. People are genuinely concerned about the future of themselves and their families but that of future generations. The plan for many people is to go to work, work, come home, survive.
It doesn’t have to be this way. You do have options.
- MINDSET: I write a lot about the power of mindset. Somehow, we need to reprogram ourselves to have a POSSIBILITY rather than a SURVIVAL mindset. Easier said than done. I get it. But this is where it all starts.
- SECOND CHANCES: Understand that we all can get a second chance. Most people, I’ve found, spend a lifetime waiting for someone else to give them a second chance. However, we have always had the ability to give ourselves a second, third, fourth, and fifth chance. We can do this for ourselves. But that takes faith and work, and that’s the rub. People seem to be okay with waiting for someone to give them that next big chance in life rather than just saying the hell with that, and I’m going to take control.
- DARE TO DREAM: You are never too old to dream of better things. We are learning every day that accepting the concept of retirement is a choice, not a requirement. You can change jobs for better opportunities at any time. You can entirely change careers at any age. I know those who have done precisely that and thrived beyond their wildest imaginations with a new and exciting second or third career. The options are limitless: buy a franchise, start a business in a field you’re interested in, or be a consultant in areas of your expertise. You have options if you allow yourself to dream and believe that you have options.
- SET GOALS and HAVE A VISION for your FUTURE: Forget about the idea that you work until you’re 65 or so, and then you plop your butt on the couch, never to be heard from again. We are all living longer than ever. We can be productive as long as we choose to. Life does not stop at a retirement date. For many, that archaic retirement date is where a new and exciting chapter of life begins. You must have a clear picture of what could be ahead for you.
- SAVE SOME MONEY: Hire a good financial advisor and begin the habit of saving something every month. If you’re in business, contribute the maximum to your company’s savings plan. Save as much as possible and treat that contribution as if it never existed. Then, let the power of compound interest go to work.
- CONSIDER ALL OPTIONS: Once again, dear readers, you have the power to do anything that you believe you can. The human mind can continue to learn no matter how old you are. So, do not let the limitations of your thinking restrict a full and prosperous life. Do not relegate yourself to just surviving. You can contribute. You can have fun at work. You can make a difference, and you just need to believe it.
Forget about retiring. Force yourself to dream and have a renewed vision for your future. Some of you reading this will say that you’ve never had your own vision for your future, just the one your employer had for you. If that’s the case, it’s about darn time for you to think about yourself for once. What would that perfect work be for you, moving forward, if you could do something else? Once you have that image in place, then do it. Give yourself that second, third, or fourth chance. You owe this to the generations to come. I believe that you owe that to the world.