There is a Growing Cultural Trend to ‘Retire’ the Concept of Retirement

In the past, many executives in their mid-to-late 50s would hold office for 10 to 15 years and then retire from corporate life with fat pockets. They would then go off to play golf or go sailing, perhaps sitting on a couple of boards so as not to completely lose touch with the business world. But today, the picture is quite different.

After all, it seems unlikely that a lifestyle primarily focused on leisure and recreation would be sufficient to provide these high-achievers with a sense of purpose and fulfillment over an expectable 25-year period of reasonably good health.

For example, a healthy 65-year-old may live another 25 years, or more, and get another shot at a fulfilling and meaningful activity. At age 50, that could mean another 40 years of life. According to the "New Map of Life" report from the Center for Longevity at Stanford University, 40-year careers are turning into 60-year careers.

To stay relevant in a world of unprecedented longevity, individuals must adopt new engagement strategies... Traditional assumptions—that learning ends in your 20s, career progression in your 40s, and work in your 60s—are no longer accurate or sustainable.  

A new vision of the future of the management profession  

Today's executives approach their future in a new way: as they leave the traditional job market, they develop a portfolio of activities that will shape their next chapter. These activities may include board membership, consulting, involvement in a nonprofit organization, or, quite often, social entrepreneurship.

A 2019 study by the Ewing Marion Kaufmann Foundation found that about 25% of all new entrepreneurs were between the ages of 55 and 64, almost double the number from 20 years earlier. There is clear evidence that new entrepreneurs are more likely to come from older age groups and that success rates increase with age.

The value of seasoned entrepreneurs  

·      They think life-changing, not lifestyle

Entrepreneurship is not just a lifestyle, a way to pursue our dreams or take control of our destiny, but more importantly a life-changing pursuit for ourselves and others.

For those of us who have grown up in the corporate world, we've gradually gained a deeper appreciation for the things that really matter to people and impact their lives – from improving their well-being, to creating rewarding new jobs, to technological innovations, or improving the environment.

·      They spot and seize opportunities hidden in plain sight

Seasoned entrepreneurs naturally spot an opportunity when they see one – and seize it. The secret usually lies in listening to and observing their target customers and in identifying their real needs. Conversely, the young, inexperienced entrepreneur may be quick to come up with creative solutions, but often does so without prior analysis of market needs or opportunities.

As a result, most of today's professional services and consulting startups are run by experienced entrepreneurs who worked in the industry for many years before launching their own brand of solutions to a common need.

·      They had time to establish a purpose and develop a "why"

What’s more, it is up to them to (re)discover "who am I now"? What kind of work, stimulation, meaning, or direction do I want now?

We literally have unlimited opportunities to explore new avenues to reinvent ourselves and "reset our priorities". We have the financial and human resources, as well as a lifetime of insights and know-how about how the world works to successfully chart a new course.

·      They draw lessons from the past to guide the future

Being able to draw on our past experiences is a major advantage in preventing common mistakes, as well as in recognizing a recurring but unsatisfied need in the marketplace.

·      They know how to bootstrap new projects and lay a sustainable foundation

Second career entrepreneurs realize that starting a new business is a rocky road and are most likely to take a "bootstrapping" approach. That is, they seek to secure a steady cashflow by relying on their own capital and the operating revenues from the new venture to bypass the pressures of finding and managing external financing.

·      They are ideally positioned to play to the fastest-growing customer segment

Longer life spans – by 2050, 1 in 6 people globally are expected to be over 65 (16%), versus 1 in 11 in 2019 (9%) – will require the creation of many new products and services, from patient advocacy to seniors' concierges to all aspects of senior care. The best way to get a sense of the needs of these new consumers is to be in the same segment as them.

Final thoughts

The idea of changing careers after age 50 was once unthinkable. Today, the old concept of a single carrier has become obsolete.

There is a societal trend that new careers will not only begin at age 50 or older but will become the way we all live in the future. Perhaps they will not be as long as a first career, or quite as linear, but second and even third careers will be part of the collective future of the more than 108 million people who are now 50 or older in the United States.

The chance to reinvent ourselves and take a whole new path in midlife is here and thriving for the many of us who have already taken the leap.

Clearly, if we are to adapt to longer life spans, we need to rethink multigenerational workforce strategies with an open mind and creativity.

Did you read those already ?

Discover more posts in


Sign up for our newsletter

And never miss our latest articles

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.