For a certified life coach like me who works with professionals in career transitions, “Golden Years” by Patricia Marx– a featured story about retirement coaching in the October 8th issue of the New Yorker magazine– really hit a nerve! Will this generation of Americans ever stop working? And why should they– especially if they have coaches to help them bridge the gap between the career paths up to age 65 and the work they choose to do after that?
Is retirement from work an option anymore? Is continuing to make money or do what you’ve loved doing for many years still a desired way to go in your 60’s and over? What is changing in your life? What is not changing, but might want to transform something from deep inside yourself? How do your professional and personal lives merge or conflict when you enter into a new period in your life?
William Bridges– author of the world-renowned book, Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes— notes that “Even though you may think of your job and your family as worlds that are miles apart, whenever things are difficult at home, the energy and attention to bring to work are diminished. Your health, your finances, your sexual life, your spiritual world– none of these things can change without sending ripples across the world of your job and your career.” In fact, reaching your 60’s and 70’s brings new realities to bear on your life, which then reflect on how you wish to work or live.
Many baby boomers, as they reach the mid-60’s watershed, have begun to take active measures to maintain good health and high energy levels. The biggest shift, though, may actually be a new level of awareness about the meaning of life itself. This spiritual transition is the thread that runs through any career change at this stage of life. Any work you decide to do in your 60’s and beyond has to make sense for the person that you have become over a life with years of experiences and work hours. This is good advice for anyone at any stage of life, of course, but there’s a new urgency at this age– a realization that time is more precious and definitely to be used with care and purpose.
Creating new ways to work that express that fullness of your life with family, friends, guiding interests, well-being, and giving back to the world is an ever-evolving process. The “golden years” can be a time of heightened meaning and opening through continuing career choices that highlight what we really value and how we wish to grow.