Doing What You Love After 65

“Love what you do and do what you love.” -Ray Bradbury

When we think of retirement age, the number 65 stands out as the benchmark age for many; however with new found longevity, not only are we living longer in years, but we are thinking about age differently too. Baby boomers, who are turning 65 at a rate of 10,000 per day for the next 19 years, understand their aging process to look much different than their parents. Maintaining health and vitality and staying busy as they age are prime values for this diverse group of individuals. When social security was enacted and the age of 65 set as retirement age, the average life expectancy was only 62 years old! We are now living 20 years past that and it leaves us with a question of what to do with those extra years of life.

According to the Pew Research Center’s National Study for the Changing Workforce, “75% of people 50+ expect to work past age 65.”   We might assume that the recession damaging many soon-to-be retirees’ portfolios is the sole reason for extending time in the work force, but it doesn’t seem to be the only driving force behind this trend. Jobs have changed to value more critical thinking and interpersonal skills that many older adults have from past experience and telecommuting and less hard labor make work options more flexible and accessible from anywhere. 

Ray Bradbury famously said, “Love what you do and do what you love. Don’t listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it…Imagination should be the center of your life.” This is wonderful advice not just for the recent grad, but for aging adults who are looking at their life after 65. For some it may mean starting a second or third career. Others may finally peruse that creative path they left behind for sensible employment or make time to volunteer their expertise and gifts to organizations they care about. Regardless, the driving value behind these choices is a desire to remain active and engage with things that give life meaning and purpose. As human beings, we need to take breaks, but no one thinks it is a good idea to live the vacation lifestyle for 20 years. We need to be attached to people, communities, and passions that bring us to life and make us feel most ourselves.  

Change is the only constant in life and it is important to build a healthy relationship with change throughout our lives. Trying new things, without worrying if they are good or if we will fail, is a great practice to maintain as we age. When we give ourselves the freedom to be a beginner, the possibilities are endless.

Here are a few questions to get you thinking about doing what you love and loving what you do:

  • Is there a career path that you gave up a long time ago that you’d like to return to?
  • What emerging work has developed during your lifetime that you might like to try?
  • What organizations are doing work you care about? Are their volunteer opportunities there?
  • What was the best job you ever had? What did you enjoy about it?
  • What information do you know or what are you good at that you could teach and give your knowledge away? 
  • Where have you always wanted to travel to or explore?
  • What creative work are you drawn to?
  • What have you always wanted to learn how to do?  
  • When do you feel most yourself?
  • If you could describe your ideal life over the next 5 years, what would it include? What would it not include? 

AARP has a wonderful site called Life Reimagined that provides step-by-step guides through change and resources and a social network of others to help millions of people see the possibilities and reimagine what their lives could be. http://lifereimagined.aarp.org/

At Sound Options, not only are we helping people change the way they think about aging, we are helping them change the way they think about long-term care. We tend to association in-home caregivers or nurse care managers in the negative terms of a disability or chronic illness. In practice, eldercare services are all about addressing needs and supporting the positive aspirations of aging adults so that they can do what they love and enjoy a high quality of life. How will you reimagine aging? For more information, visit us online at www.SoundOptions.com or give us a call at 800.628.7649.   

Published on July 9, 2014.