The truth is we have been sold a false dream about resting after service that no longer suits our country's economics, health and vitality in later life.
There's research that says resting for 30 years is not so good for our health.
This got me thinking some more. What can we do to change the current way we view our later years?
We are no longer 'old' at the age we retire. We are also retiring with more education, skills and energy than ever before.
In the case of women, who I serve at Retiring With Joy TV, I often hear from women that they can't afford to retire. I also hear from many women that they don't want to retire ... that they want to be engaged in the work force as long as they can work.
Here are the issues I see with the current retirement model, some of these are female specific and others are not.
- You are expected to disengage from paid work/employment;
- You often drop your standards of living;
- You are expected to give your time and skills away for free as volunteer, even if you are living below the poverty line;
- Women are expected to become carers for grandchildren and elderly parents;
- You are expected to travel and live it up for 30 years ... but often don't have the funds to do so;
- Even if you do have the funds to 'live it up' you quickly get bored if you do not have a purpose and something to strive for;
- You are expected to get old fast;
- You are expected to end up in a retirement village and/or aged care facility; and
- You are expected to withdraw your superannuation and stop contributing after 65.
The experts say that we should start planning for retirement at the age of 45. Meanwhile, women are having their families later, stopping their careers in the middle rather than the beginning and the discrimination that comes with re-engaging the work force later is a real concern.
So what do we do about all of this so that women can thrive in their later years rather than just survive?
Let's get rid of the concept and the word 'retirement.'
I recently read an article in the Harvard Business Review called It's Time to Retire Retirement. I agree 100%.
Wisdom years mean older employees have a lot of skills and knowledge to offer and yes they should continue getting paid for their contribution to society.
Living on their terms, flexibly and with more opportunity for time out and play and for employment models to support this to happen.
Re-educating and changing the culture around how businesses and people view older employees, realising that they have more to contribute not only in skills and knowledge, but also loyalty.
Women who are re-entering the workforce after having their families be supported to start planning their pathway to a work/life balance that allows them to thrive in their later years and where possible, financially support themselves when they need to engage aged care services.
Superannuation restrictions around contributions and age should be removed and contributions should be allowed as long as people are working.
For people to be supported to discover and engage with their passion and purpose, so they can start incorporating them in their lives for their overall health and wellbeing and the wellbeing of our communities. In my experience, those who do are much happier, healthier and living fulfilling lives in their 70's and beyond.
Opportunity for women to explore starting their own business or entrepreneurship that allows them to live on their terms and for training and support to be provided.
Finally, and this one goes without saying, the wages of women to reach parity with men's, so that superannuation contributions are higher and stand a better chance of thriving instead of surviving.
Whilst some of these are systemic changes, there are things you can do for yourself.
It's time to get together and start lobbying and creating the kind of life we want to have with no excuses - regardless of systems.
For businesses that can see the value in what I've discussed, you can start making changes now. Improve your HR practices, be flexible with your work structures, and encourage your employees to engage with their passion and purpose.
With mature employees, you will secure their skills, knowledge and loyalty.
When people are valued for what they bring, instead of their D.O.B. people can then be supported to create the life they want, and develop a plan for longevity, flexibility and self-sustainability. This is where our society is heading and where it needs to head for our personal and for Australia's financial security.