For all you early-risers commuting to work each day, let’s start with a happy Disney song, now running in a Delta commercial:
Now consider this “Heigh Ho” workforce statistic: The average US commute time isn’t getting shorter – it’s getting longer.
Yep, you read that right. According to the US Census, the average US commute was 26.4 minutes in 2015 (their last survey) and it keeps getting longer. In some metro areas, it’s creeping up to the 40-minute danger zone. Keep in mind, I said “average.” That means there are plenty of folks stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, toiling away two or more hours each day on the road.
PS: This might explain why podcast listenership is increasing.
As I scan the graph at the left, all I can think is if we can put a man on the moon and we’re now within a few years of seeing driverless cars on the road, what’s up with these expanding commute times?
For pre-retirees, that daily commute is draining and you might be dreaming of the day when you can STOP.
But here’s the thing — Stopping is hazardous to your health.
Stopping (retiring with no clue about what you’ll do next) is the express lane to a destination we’re all trying to avoid – accelerated aging. Next thing you know, you’ve got a rocker at Shady Acres with your name engraved on it and you’re clocking rocks per hour on your FitBit.
There’s gotta be a better way to transition from exhausting commutes and endless workplace demands to sleeping in and having more time to indulge in the things you enjoy.
I’ll often hear this response from some pre-retirees: “I need to stop and take a break for awhile. Later, I’ll give some thought about what I’ll do next.”
Sounds reasonable at first glance, but then inertia starts to take hold. Suddenly, you’re roaming around the house in your bathrobe with all kinds of time on your hands, but no plan or sense of urgency. “I’ll think about it tomorrow… or next week… or next month” becomes your new mantra. Without some semblance of a plan, it’s too easy to slip into a Law & Order binge fest as you try to figure out what you’ll do next.
Don’t get me wrong, taking a breather is a great idea — but don’t do that without some kind of plan (even a sketchy one) in mind. Something you might ponder every now and then while you’re savoring that summer-long dream vacation.
Retirement is one of life’s “big bang” celebratory moments. There are parties with well wishes from family and friends, followed by questions about what you’ll do next. Everybody expects you’ll indulge in more time with the grandkids and other leisure pursuits, but this is the perfect time to give them just a clue as to what new and exciting thing you’ll explore next. This could be income generating or something more altruistic – bring on the social entrepreneur.
But for this once-in-a-lifetime moment, think like a journalist and tease out your next life headline at your retirement party. You’ll be amazed at what happens next.
Designing Your Best Career Downshift Ever
Some day, you’ll retire from that 9-to-5 job. My wish for you is that you’ll be the one initiating this discussion, not your employer.
After the 2008 recession, many Boomers chose to stick around longer on the job, in hopes that a bit more time might give them a chance to recover from 401k losses. This trend of Boomers lingering longer actually created a new HR dilemma – Promotion Blockage.
In this SHRM article, they share a few calculations to illustrate how this Promotion Blockage plays out. Let’s say 4% of the employee population is retirement eligible, but half of these people choose to delay retirement. Over time, this can delay promotions for nearly 10% of the workforce. Left unchecked, that could lead to a massive brain drain, as the best and brightest move on to firms where they can advance faster.
Keep in mind, there are no federal age mandates for retirement, though there are a few jobs where exceptions exist. As I watch this current workplace showdown unfold, often both sides (employer and employee) are holding their cards close to their vest, to the detriment of everyone. The employee fears that if they start sharing plans about retirement too early, they might get pushed out sooner than they’d like. Conversely, HR tends to stay mum on retirement conversations, as they fear accusations of ageism, but that fear is starting to wane a bit.
In higher education, where professors hold tenure and for the most part, control when they’ll retire, there’s a new model being ushered in that incorporates a series of gradual downshifts. At a few universities, each year, the professor’s class load lightens up a bit more until they reach the finish line. This more graceful exit plan is one we wish more corporate employers would adopt.
Now for the reality check: At many workplaces, this graceful exit plan doesn’t yet exist, but we’re confident that in time, it will. In the meantime, here at Retirepreneur, we’re fond of Seth Godin’s sage advice: “Don’t wait to get picked — pick yourself.”
Retirepreneur pursuits are exactly that. While you’re working, focus on a retirement reboot and start planning for this next phase, because as longevity advances, chances are high that you’ll have three decades of experiences to chart out. Those who plan ahead for the next ten-year sprint tend to be more successful at making this pivot from job to freelance work they enjoy. Many manage to “rinse & repeat” this freelance phase for at least one more decade before it’s time to start shopping for that rocking chair.
For our part, we’re beginning to partner with universities to host workshops for alumni in their 50s and 60s. Why not return to the place where you launched your career to reinvent this next stage? It’s a great chance to connect with fellow alumni, faculty and other thought leaders in your community — all tremendous assets you might tap as you continue on your freelance journey.
Our first Retirement Reinvented workshop will take place October 13th at the University of Dayton, which also happens to be my alma mater – Go Flyers! If you’re in SW Ohio, we hope you’ll join us. Click here for more details and to register.
As for everyone else, if you’d like to see us host a workshop in your area, drop me a line at email@example.com and I’ll get back to you with thoughts on how we might make it happen… because “none of us is as smart as all of us!”