Suppose for a moment you’re in your fifties, thinking more often than ever before about retirement that’s now a decade or less away for the first time in your life. Suppose as well that your comfortably employed and in no immediate threat whatsoever about losing your job. What would it take to pry you out of your current job?
It would have to be a job perhaps with stability, permanence, a competitive salary and of course match in some way the benefits you’ve been enjoying in your current job; benefits like the same number of weeks of vacation on top of health perks. That’s a tall order, but there it is.
If you fall into this mid-fifties category, you’re in a unique position from all other age categories. You’ve still got income coming in like those younger than you, but you’re in that last decade of employable earnings. When you finally hang up your work clothes for the last time, you’re expecting to live off whatever you’ve accumulated and whatever pension or benefit your country and employer may bestow upon you as a retired person.
Purchases you’ve been making up to now have always been augmented by your next pay to replenish the old bank account. Debts have been manageable because you’ve had a plan to pay them off through your earnings. Large purchases however, such as a new home require much more thought than in the past because of the nagging fear of being retired and carrying forward a mortgage you may not want to be burdened with when your employable income is gone.
It almost sounds like this blog is heading in the direction of recommending you sit down now with a Financial Planner; and while that’s not ever a bad idea, that’s not where I’m going. Look, you’ve got 10 or 15 years maximum left let’s say in your working life before moving into the next life stage. So my question remains, “What would it take to pry you out of your current job?”
Of course if the job you are in brings you great satisfaction, excellent pay and benefits and there’s no downside altogether, the likelihood that you’d change that for something else is less than it would be otherwise. If on the other hand, your current job has become mind-numbing, the pay is only average, the climate toxic, or the work itself brings you little personal satisfaction, you may be interested in a change.
The major concern people in this older demographic generally have is that they are becoming less attractive to new employers. So if they did take a chance and change jobs and for whatever reason the new job didn’t turn out as expected, the odds on a successful job search in their late 50’s aren’t as good as they’d like, and their afraid of being out of work altogether. This unexpected unemployment might use up savings, exhaust a retirement fund, crippling their ability to live whatever style of retirement they envision.
The downside of course is you may still be facing these next 10-15 years of employment in a job that is not really fulfilling your sense of satisfaction. You’re conscious of becoming stale, stagnant, mentally disengaged; you know that if you were 15 years younger, you’d definitely be looking for greater challenges and more stimulating work. But the mirror in the bathroom each morning shows you’re exactly who you are – nothing more, nothing less.
Ah you’ve become so responsible haven’t you? Yes, you with your mortgage now that’s almost paid off. You’re down to your last 2 or 3 new vehicles, you’ve accumulated all the, ‘stuff’ you wanted at some point and have found yourself telling the family just last month, “I don’t NEED anything for Christmas; really.” A younger you wouldn’t have settled for riding into retirement safe and secure but unfulfilled. You ponder more and more often, “Is this it? Is this all there is? Have I made a difference?”
So you are left wondering if when you retire, you’ll leave your working life having been happy. What if you pondered for a while, a different retirement than the one you’ve been picturing up until now? Instead of the standard, “mortgage free, a few trips a year, time with the grandkids, golfing” picture, what if you envisioned something more unique?
If your view of retirement changed, would that make risking a new start with a new employer now in your mid-fifties more palatable? Getting out and starting anew would stimulate your creativity; challenge you in ways you haven’t been of late. You’d be invigorated anew and whatever struggle to excel and establish yourself again you’d feel would come as a welcomed relief. Instead of playing it safe and secure but losing yourself in the monotony, you’d risk that security but feel like you’re alive again, with a renewed purpose. Retirement would still be looming of course, but you can always adjust that envisioned lifestyle and do things now while you’re in the best health you’re going to be over the remainder of your life.
What would it take to pry you out of your current job? Perhaps some courage, a sense of urgency, a feeling of not wanting to write yourself off just yet and wanting to do what you’ve always wanted to do before it’s too late. In short, maybe a leap of faith that proves you’re still young at heart.