The 60s Are Back!

The 60s Are Back!

by Thomas L. Hardin, CMT, CFP

Recently, my wife and I took a trip to Florida. As we walked along the beach, we noticed some older people who could barely walk, slowly shuffling along, and some other people about the same age running and looking physically fit. That's when it hit me - the way we take care of ourselves now, in our 50s and 60s, has a bigger impact the older we get.

Not so long ago, people seemed a lot older at 50 and 60 than they do today. They were less active, less fit, and far less healthy. The older generations got old fast. Today, we have a new paradigm or a different vision of what those years can look like. Who says we have to slow down when we get older? Look at 82-year-old Leona Tessier, who last year completed her sixth consecutive Indianapolis Mini-Marathon (that's 13.2 miles). She not only runs it every year, she improves her time every year!

The 60s are making a comeback - and I'm not talking about the 1960s. I'm talking about 60-year-olds, the rock and roll generation. Back in the 1960s, they created a whole new paradigm, a cultural revolution. Rock and rollers led the civil rights movement, the women's movement - they demanded change and they got it. Their revolution for tolerance, equality, and fairness became today's norm. And they're about to do it again.

The "experts" think the rock and roll generation will be a drag on society. Many of these so-called authorities predict that, once we reach retirement age, we'll become an albatross around the neck of the younger generations. We'll inundate and overwhelm the health care system, bankrupt Social Security, and hoard our wealth, retreating to retirement villages and refusing to support schools and social services with our taxes. That's the current model of what happens to people in their 60s, and it's not very appealing. It's not appealing to us and it's not appealing to the rest of society. The truth is, it's time for a new revolution and a whole new paradigm about what those years are going to bring. With people like Leona Tessier, the revolution has already begun, and it won't be long before it becomes the norm.

Here are my predictions for the future. First, semi-retirement will become more prevalent. We won't retire, we'll simply "graduate" from our existing positions. We'll take our knowledge, skill, and insight, and become productive in a whole new way - starting another career or turning a hobby into a revenue source.

By that point in time, we won't have as many responsibilities. The kids will be grown, we'll be secure in our jobs, and life will be geared toward fun and personal fulfillment. If we make smart decisions and pursue the right activities, with the help of medical technology our 80s can feel like our 50s or our 60s.

Although we'll keep working, we might take a year off to refocus, choose a new direction, get reeducated, or develop a new skill. Then we'll start new careers (part- or full-time), adapt, change, start our own businesses, and take time off again. It'll be a series. The old way was to go to school, work, retire, and die. Now we'll run through several cycles: learn, work, adapt, go back to school and learn, work, adapt again.

The old paradigm tells us aging is bad. People who believe this think that growing older will mean outliving their friends, running out of money, losing their freedom, and having to keep working at jobs they don't love. To make your second 50 years your best years yet, all you have to do is change your paradigm. Picture yourself staying pretty much the way you are now or getting better for many years to come. Imagine yourself having more fun, more freedom, more flexibility than at any other time. Think of aging as kind of like graduating from high school: every choice, career, and opportunity in the world is yours for the taking . . . but this time you have wisdom, insight, intuition, and money!

Unlike older generations whose main concern was survival, the rock and roll generation is known for its never-ending pursuit of happiness. As a group, we've always been upwardly mobile. We don't want to go into a retirement "survival" mode. We want to keep growing, contributing, and pursuing meaningful activities as we just keep getting better. The second 50 years will be our best years yet - so get ready for the revolution, and the time of your life!