At the Age Diversity Forum, we welcome guest presenters, and today is such a day, where we are delighted to share a new article from Tony Williams….I should say that we see Tony as very much part of the ADF family rather than a guest!
Tony has had a forty-year corporate career across various industries, including hospitality, retail, consulting, telecommunications and financial services, and in a number of functions, but primarily project and programme management. Prior to concluding his corporate career, Tony led the creation of the Midlife Forum in Barclays plc. Tony now offers his services as an experienced coach and is working on a number of other personal projects.
Tony and I have regular ‘zoom-type’ discussions, and Tony has an uncanny quality of shining a light on some of life’s key questions. This is another example, and I would encourage all organisation leaders to consider this opportunity to respond to support individuals and teams through such contemplation. By offering simple values of fairness and equality in the workplace, you will help to maintain, and improve, well-being.
Steve Anderson |CEO | The Age Diversity Forum
Avoiding the Scrap Heap?
An article from Tony Williams:
As much as it may not feel like it at times, humanity, is by and large, living longer and healthier lives than in the entirety of human history. Even more astounding, is that the bulk of those improvements have been gained over the last century or so, but as we know, nature has an uncanny and perpetual knack of reminding us of her ubiquity and our need to avoid complacency. All that being said, there is a global megatrend for an ageing population.
So, does that mean in years to come, a growing and substantive population of economically inactive retirees around the world? Maybe not?
The concept of retirement and its financial corollary, the state pension, is also just over a century old. In human terms, it’s pretty new stuff. It was, and is, very much a product of the industrial revolution and at the time, was a modest financial commitment for governments, as qualifying workers did not generally live for long in retirement.
But given that we are living longer and healthier lives, is the concept of retirement, as defined during the industrial revolution, also now due for its own retirement?
Perhaps age should no longer be (life) stage?
It’s a huge challenge though, as governments wrestle with the growing costs of ageing populations, organisations struggle with age diversity alongside all the other ‘isms’ they are trying to address, and then we as individuals are challenged with choices about what we do as we enter the latter half or third of our lives.
“having work which is meaningful and satisfying to you in later life significantly improves your health and wellbeing”
From a work perspective, you may have a career where you feel you have good choices, and/or, an enlightened employer who offers well thought out tracks than you can choose, or you may simply be very clear on your post work life plan; in which case, good on you. I’d suggest though that for many of us none of the above applies and with the absence of a statutory retirement date we may well go with the flow until the ‘NRA’ date kicks in and the pension sort of looks ok?
But are we missing a trick here; is that just a passive route to the ‘Scrap Heap’?
Whilst employers and governments really haven’t got to grips with all of this yet, that doesn’t mean as individuals we are without agency or influence over what we would like our later working lives to be and for how long. I’d humbly suggest that to start with it needs a bit of deep thinking and reflection. You may already have 30 or more years in the world of employ. You may have loved all of it, you may have hated all of it, but most likely it will have been a bit of a mixed bag.
The killer question though is ‘what do you want for the next chapter of your work life?’, and that’s probably in the context of your wider life. If you are in your fifties and in reasonably good health, you’ll have a good chance of living another 25, 30 or more years, and with good habits and ever improving medical technology, the majority of those years should be in good health too.
It is a cliché, everyone’s circumstances, desires, motivations and resources are different, but there is a universal, that within those constraints we all have agency, often far more than we ever imagined. You may already have worked out what you’re going to do in the next few years, and if that means stepping away from the world of work because you can and want to, then power to your elbow!
For many of us though, work, and that doesn’t necessarily imply paid work, gives meaning and satisfaction to our daily lives and many people don’t realise how much until it’s no longer there; we don’t know what we’ve got until it’s gone! The research is also very clear that having work which is meaningful and satisfying to you in later life significantly improves your health and wellbeing.
The time when it’s probably ripe to get your head around these things though, is often the time when you are swamped with demands from all sorts of directions, whether that be children, elderly relatives, work or any number of other pressures. I’d humbly suggest though that it’s well worth the investment of thinking about these things earlier rather than later. The choices are myriad, time goes far quicker than we ever imagine and depending on what path you choose to take, it will take action on your part to make it happen. Assuming that your current employer will look out for you, or just leaving things in the hands of the gods, are equally risky strategies.
So, don’t allow yourself to end up on the heap, you have so much to offer humanity and you owe it to yourself to create that next lovely chapter of your life.
And one last thought; if you have a lifetime partner, find the time to talk and listen to each other deeply about what you’d like the future to be like…..it’s amazing how many couples don’t!
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