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65 is the New 59 – Really!

65 is the New 59 – Really!

I recently read an article in the Globe and Mail a couple of weeks ago that made me really stop and think about how we approach retirement in Canada.  

The Globe was reporting on some recent research published by the C.D. Howe Institute that suggested that the population is actually not aging given that our life expectancy has now increased.  For example, the report suggested that based on our life expectancy a 65 year old in 1950 would have an adjusted real age of 59.5 in 2010.   As well, the researchers went further to suggest that we should review our social and employment policies from the perspective of life expectancy versus from an age perspective and create ways to support people in working longer should that either be a result of necessity or choice.

This made me start to wonder – as Canadians, are we looking at retirement completely the wrong way?

Let me give you an example.  A number of years back our family was on vacation and we met another family.  We eventually got onto the topic of careers and the other father mentioned that he was a dentist but only worked in his practice three days a week.  He told us that by doing this, he was able to spend more time with his family and also pursue some of his own personal interests.  He also told us that in order to do this, he was planning on working until he was probably around 75 or 80 – or until he wasn’t physically able to or didn’t enjoy it any longer.  He said he felt that it was important that he be able to spend time with his children and given the freedom that he had currently in his life, felt that working later in his life was just part of his overall life balance.

I’m wondering if as a society we should be focused on overall life balance versus defining it as work / life balance and in this new thinking whether we need to also reconsider how we view retirement.

Many people are focused on working a certain number of years towards a specific retirement age and then once retired plan to pursue their personal interests.  What if we actually had more personal time to enjoy our lives throughout the course of our careers, would we still feel the same need to retire?

This type of approach would definitely challenge the current employment models and I can just see HR Departments everywhere grimacing at this thought – but there may be some significant benefits in this approach.  Increased retention of staff, improved morale, decreased stress, reduced government spending – could be some of the benefits for all generations.  Plus the fact that there is emerging research that suggests working longer is actually good for us.

This is just an idea and even though it might be a bit late for some of us it could possibly help the future generations better balance their lives.  What do you think?  Could you see something like this working or is this idea just too far out there?

I would love to hear your thoughts…. 

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Susan Williams is the Founder of Booming Encore. Being a Boomer herself, Susan loves to discover and share ways to live life to the fullest. She shares her experiences, observations and opinions on living life after 50 and tries to embrace Booming Encore's philosophy of making sure every day matters.