Fellow Boomers, A Call to Action!
Statistics Canada defines the 'baby boom generation' as those born after World War II to the mid-sixties (1946 to 1965), characterized by a birth rate 15% above previous years. Today, these babies are from mid 50s to mid 70s. The baby boom generation of the '40s, '50s and '60s is entering a time of life traditionally viewed as retirement.
Our boomer generation, however, is like nothing that ever came before. Boomers are revolutionaries. We entered the adult world determined to make it a better place - or at least something different. We grew our hair long, wore ankle-length-tie-dye dresses and preached love not war. We, the boomers, became the most educated and unconventional of any previous generation. Today, we are the most skilled and experienced demographic in the world.
Boomers, the Aquarius generation, the revolutionaries, have dramatically changed society in every conceivable way. Our next conquest? - what USED to be retirement. And we are disrupting this age of life, too.
Almost 3 out of 10 Canadians are boomers; similar in the USA. We are entering the traditional retirement age by the millions. If boomers opt out as previous generations have, we take with us productivity, taxes, pensions and investment worth trillions of dollars. Industry and government are bracing for significant reductions in profit and GDP.
But dollars are only part of the story. Boomers are the 'senior expertise' and 'corporate memory' of industry, commerce and governance. Society stands to lose that, too. The retirement of the largest and most productive generation in history would create tectonic-scale shifts in the socio-economic geography of the developed world – not in good way.
Naturally, there has been some response. Boomers continue to set records. We are the wealthiest, the healthiest and the most economically active 55 to 75 year-olds ever. In Canada, the over 65 group still working has spiked by 140% over the past decade, and the over 55 group is also up, by 67%. Huge numbers. Boomers are not taking their age lying down. But then, who would have expected us to?
Boomers are in a position to negotiate, because society really needs us! Our skills, experience, productivity and wealth are craved. Employers need to be more flexible, offering work weeks with the fewer hours, more extended vacations and other desirable options to continue to engage. Both the private sector and governments will encourage and facilitate the self-employment many of us prefer.
In the language of commerce, the supply/demand balance cascades in our favour. That gives us say. So, our participation can take diverse forms - traditional employment (but doing stuff we want to do this time), self-employment, community and social service, innovation and development, and, of course, supporting our families - just about any kind of contribution and achievement. Where there is growing need, there is growing opportunity.
Boomers want fulfilling experiences at this time of life - purpose, engagement and achievement. While we are healthy and vigorous, and enjoy more freedom, we want to experience the self-actualization that may have eluded us while we struggled to keep pace with the responsibilities of younger ages.
This time, it's our time.
Ed Britton, The NOT Retirement Coach