A STRANGE THING is happening in corporate America right now.
The job market is booming, and companies are offering bonuses and salary increases to find and keep good people. Yet experienced workers are leaving their jobs in droves. The Labor Department reported that a record number of Americans have recently quit their jobs, part of what pundits are calling “the Great Resignation.”
I’m one of them. After 30 years leading global communications and public relations programs for multi-billion-dollar technology companies,
I MAY BE THE POSTER child for the new retirement, switching back and forth between standard employment and side gigs, as I seek work that I find fulfilling. I’m not alone: It seems many people are retiring earlier than they planned and then working part-time, moving in and out of the workforce based on need and opportunity.
The annual Retirement Confidence Survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) shows that—while workers expect to retire at age 65—the median retirement age is actually 62.
I LEFT MY CORPORATE job a year ago to start a second career in higher education. At the time, I offered five pieces of advice to those considering a similar change. That advice included creating a plan with your family, giving your desired new career a test drive and taking advantage of deferred compensation plans. A year into my new career change, here are four additional tips:
1. Estimate the point of no return.
IS SUCCESS WITHIN reach for anybody willing to work hard? We like to think of the U.S. as a meritocracy with a one-to-one correlation between effort and achievement. It’s a notion that allows us to feel that we’re in control of our destiny and that we’ve fully earned the success we enjoy.
But in truth, there are many factors that continue to tilt the playing field one way or another. Socioeconomic status, race and gender still sway the game.
GROWING UP, I WAS heavily influenced by the ideals of the Protestant work ethic. Working hard and finding career success provided great satisfaction, so I assumed I’d handle the second half of my life in the same way as the first.
This wasn’t a great plan.
I was around age 50 when I came across the writings of psychiatrist Carl Jung and his discussion of the two halves of life. For me, the timing couldn’t have been better.
AT A RECENT FAMILY event, some of the younger adults were asking their uncle what investments they ought to buy. The uncle is a veteran finance professional with a background in alternative investments.
The young men, all in their early 20s, were just starting their careers. They wanted his opinion on hot stocks, cryptocurrencies and nonfungible tokens (NFTs). One of them had recently made several hundred dollars buying and selling an NFT of an NBA image.
LEAVE IT TO ME to become entangled in Twitter “discussions.”
I’m often driven to comment on those Tweets that contend that the opportunity to get ahead in America no longer exists, and that it’s impossible for many to save money or pay off their debts.
Recently, my confrontations resulted in a 30-something—who wanted more than $50,000 in student loans forgiven—informing me that, “I am not interested in an old (@#X?) man’s point of view.” What was so offensive about my point of view?
AFTER 14 YEARS on active duty with the U.S. Army, I recently walked away from being a fulltime soldier. At age 39, it’s the only professional life I’ve known. I plan to complete my 20 years of service in the U.S. Army Reserve, which will earn me a reduced pension.
It would be hard to argue this was a smart financial decision. While defined benefit plans have mostly been replaced by defined contribution plans such as 401(k),
I RECENTLY LEFT my fulltime position at an energy trading company. I had a good run and enjoyed the job. It was mainly the people, both my coworkers and our clients.
I also liked the business travel. It broke up the daily routine and put faces to names, plus there were the awesome ribeye steak dinners with clients. Speaking at conferences was fun, too.
But things evolve. To quote Rocky, “If I can change and you can change,
I WAS AGE 31 when I started my job as a department manager at a small college in Portland, Oregon. Back then, it wasn’t unusual for people to mistake me for one of the students.
Now I’m 53 and people assume I’m the mother of one of the students. I’ve been working at the college for more than 22 years, which means I’ve been there longer than most of the current students have been alive.
AFTER 23 YEARS working in corporate finance for companies such as Amgen and Patagonia, I’m making a career switch this fall, becoming a fulltime lecturer at California Lutheran University. While I always enjoyed my corporate roles and liked my colleagues, I’ve long had a passion for teaching and wanted to make it my fulltime work.
While some co-workers and friends assumed this change was an impulsive decision driven by a midlife crisis or brought on by some epiphany while working at home during the pandemic,
WHEN I WAS in my 20s, I joined a large aerospace company. It was my first job out of college. I was an employee who thought all my colleagues were team players working toward the best interest of the company.
Back then, I’d never heard of the term “office politics.” But Ron, my boss, took it to a whole new level. He was an expert at manipulating people.
Ron joined the company a year after I did.
I’M THE TYPE of person who likes to plan. I have at least 10 to-do lists going at any one time. I have calendars on my refrigerator, my desk and my phone. I plan out my days, my months, my years and, on occasion, my decades.
My job, managing the biology department at a small liberal arts college, is a perfect fit for my personality. For the past 22 years, I’ve methodically planned out every day of each semester.
A REVOLUTION in the workforce is creating an underutilized resource: workers over age 50. These workers represent more than a quarter of the U.S. labor force, and that number is expected to climb sharply as the population ages.
For these workers, it would be a boon—financially and otherwise—if they could stay in the workforce for longer. It would also be great for the economy, ensuring we continue to have enough workers to produce the goods and services that society needs.
WHEN ASKED, MOST people say their most valuable financial asset is their home. But what gave them the financial wherewithal to buy that house, as well as to purchase a car, buy food and pay for vacations? It was their career. Everything that has a financial component in our life starts with our earnings potential.
Take a young adult making $60,000 a year. Assuming a 2% annual raise, he or she would haul in nearly $3 million over a 35-year career.