Navigating Retirement in an Age of Uncertainty
‘May you live in interesting times’ a Chinese proverb proclaims.
We are indeed witnessing seismic shifts—especially in the field of technology— that are reshaping society before our eyes. Privately however, I and I am assuming quite a few of us from the baby boomer generation, hanker for those golden days when society tailored our life-paths and guided us down well-established paths of adult life.
No longer! Today, each of us must design his/her own path. Lifetime employment and structured jobs are things of the past.
That said, it was still shocking to read a recent report from the Committee of Economic Development of Australia estimates that 40% of jobs that currently exist in Australia have a moderate to high likelihood of disappearing within 10-15 years due to technological innovations. But do not despair. Such a major change may force us to re-think and re-evaluate our goals and objectives.
According to revolutionary or New Stage thinkers like Peter Laslett, Marc Freedman, Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, Ken Dychtwald and Chris O’Farrell we are living through an unprecedented time of change without a roadmap—a Third Age, Third Stage, Third Chapter, or Encore Years. You and I are the vanguard, we are in the process of mapping this new terrain! Both at the macro—societal and technological, and micro—personal levels daunting challenges lie ahead. We have little option but to become independent workers, to be personally entrepreneurial, blaze our own trail and keep doing and moving. Keep meeting people, keep calling, just keep doing whatever it is we should be or can do. Even when we are not sure of the next step, even when we can’t see clearly what lies ahead, we must continue to move forward. It’s the only way to continue learning.
In fact, technology has always been a job creator! What we all must face up to is that the world of work is going to change dramatically. According to renowned futurist and technologist Steve Sammartino, the two main reasons why your job and mine have already disappeared or are about to do so are (i) artificial intelligence and (ii) the move back to a world of independent workers—freelancers and entrepreneurs.
What concerns you and me is that not all of us will feel comfortable about the need to embrace a world where independence is the new normal. The most valuable thing we can do, according to Sammartino, is to have a malleable mindset—to participate in the reinvention of ourselves by developing skills of creativity, adaptability, and flexibility.
Retirement too, in the traditional sense —a complete withdrawl from active life to devote oneself exclusively to family, friends, leisure, hobbies, and travel— has for many become obsolete. Due to advances in science and medicine, changes in our lifestyle and information at our fingertips, we are leading longer and healthier lives—in fact we have been given an incredible gift of 20 plus years of active life between the end of midlife and old age. The question that confronts each of us is, ‘what are we going to do with these freshly minted years?’ Are they going to prove a blessing or a burden?
What do you think?