Retirement: Choosing a New Road

Laurentian Mountains, Quebec, Canada.

Laurentian Mountains, Quebec, Canada.

by Jennifer Webster

 

In 1916, American poet Robert Frost wrote wistfully of  “The Road Not Taken.” A hundred years later, people live long enough to return to the fork in the road and explore the untrodden way.

If you’re lucky enough to live through the demands of raising children and working every day, your “second 50” may well be a time for second chances. Was there a path in your life you didn’t explore, but now want to return to?
As they retire, baby boomers are treading new and often unique roads. These seven trends show the current boomer life choices on retirement:

Moving

Merrill Lynch reports 4.2 million retirees moved in 2015. Rather than seeking vacation spots, these boomers frequently cross the country to be near their kids and grandkids.

Building Big Nests

Some retirees do downsize; however, about half of those who move purchase even larger homes designed to entertain (or house) several generations at once.

Gaining and Guarding Against Girth

Boomers smoke less than their Greatest Generation predecessors, but they weigh more. Result? They prioritize weight loss—even more than saving money—as a pre-retirement goal, according to Financial Advisor.

Volunteering

Today’s retireees are turning their impulse toward service into strenuous pursuits. Many traveled to Louisiana to help rebuild after Hurricane Katrina, AARP reports.

Sharing

Boomers are embracing social media, especially long-form endeavors, such as blogs. Topics range from shepherding parents through end-of-life to travel logs and recipe collections. Other blogs take the shape of daily journals, often illustrated with photographs, tracing ordinary thoughts and events.

Working

In 2014, 18 percent of people age 65 and older were employed. By 2014, that number is expected to grow to more than 21 percent. And a tenth of those older than 75 are likely to be working then, up from 8 percent now.

Praying … and Questioning

More than 78 percent of U.S. seniors describe themselves as Christian (along with 2 percent Jewish, 1 percent Buddhist and less than 1 percent each Hindu and Muslim). However, boomers tend to approach religion through spirituality rather than institutional affiliation. While only a third attend church regularly, 61 percent pray daily and 45 percent meditate weekly, according to Pew Research Center. Many regularly experience profound awe at the wonders of the universe. More feel that truth is situational, rather than universal, and as a whole they prefer common sense to scripture as an aid to decision-making.

Forge Your Own Path

More important than what the trends say, what do you want to do with your second 50? Depending on your life choices and chances, you may be free of some outside sources of pressure: childrearing, making plans together with a spouse or following the dictates of a work schedule. Or maybe you need to rebalance your priorities; for instance, a divorce may give you extra time to spend excelling in your profession. Retirement, on the other hand, may leave room for a month-long solitary hike along the Appalachian Trail, or a summer retreat devoted to cultivating a deeper relationship with your spouse. Take a look back at that “road less traveled.” Perhaps you’re committed to the road you’re on … but then again, maybe you could begin to explore a new, untrodden path