TED Conversations

Erik Richardson

Teacher, Richardson Ideaworks, Inc.


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How will you spend your time and/or make a living between ages 60 and 100?

As improved medicine and machinery continue to expand our lifespans in the developed world, the current model in which we work until age 65 +/- and then "retire" seems sadly outdated. New questions begin to arise, though, when we reflect on how we will each make a living and how we will make a life. I am excited to see what kind of ideas you all come up with.

One particular question related to the model is this: if someone goes back to school to re-tool for a whole new career at, say, 50, will they get hired into career-track positions where they could work for 20 years?

  • Jul 6 2012: I ship books to far off places
    unaware of foreign faces
    who smile friendly smiles
    off shore and out of sight
    My bedrooms a bookstore of delight
    a transit station of imagination
    list the book and wait

    What is it you adore?
    I hope I have it on my floor
    in a pile; an eyesore according to my wife
    who puts up with me with a knife
    in one hand swearing one more book and and

    and so I sneak them in in bags and boxes
    scaliwags and foxes.
    The gentle madness has me.

    Ebay is my therapy
    ebay is an income stream
    ebay is a cloudy dream
    whereby I connect with international commerce

    World peace through World trade
    read the sign high above Lexington and 8th.

    once in bricks and shelves of wood
    a little book store stood
    people would browse around
    and give meaning to what they found
    but no more
  • Jun 29 2012: Recently I had heard about people "re-inventing" themselves at age 50-60. Well, I think I had a jump start on most of them out there!! About 7 years ago, when the idea of gearing down at age 55 was blown out of the water by the loss of husband to lung cancer, when I was 52, I thought long and hard about what I was going to do for retirement. Being a nurse for 37 years, I had come up through the ranks of all degrees of nursing, LPN, RN, ASN, BSN, etc. So, I thought, how can I spend the rest of my life working smarter, not harder!! Getting the biggest salary bang for the buck!! Well, I had always wanted to be a doctor, and it would be the natural progression of educational accomplishments, so, I decided to apply and was accepted into a Caribbean Medical school. Last weekend was graduation, Magna Cum Laude at age 59 from medical school!! Never thought I would or could do it, but an opportunity presented itself and I grabbed on to it with both hands!!! I figured, I was going to be 7 years older, no matter how I looked at it, and I'm not one to sit down to a "pity party" for myself, so today, I not only have the MD initials behind the name, also accumulated an MS in Biomedical Science and an MBBS (British equivalent of MD).
    I hope to be enjoying and working in the medical profession until I chose to retire, not because someone else dictates my fate. And, above all, hopefully be an inspiration to women, everywhere, to go for the gusto to fulfill your dream!!
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      Jun 29 2012: Hurrah for Jean Hafer (and thank you so MUCH for sharing your story!)
      Are you taking on new patients? (I am just joking because I do love my own doc and he is in Canada)!
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      Jul 1 2012: That's a great story, Jean. The other half is when we see how many hospitals offer to hire you on. Best of luck!
      • Jul 3 2012: Thanks Erik, we'll see how things go getting into a residency program, I'm optimistic. Then again, there's always "plan B"!!! Keep on trucking!!!
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          Jul 3 2012: So inspiring. Med school loans - that's the kind of monster under my bed that would keep me awake at nights, so I'm glad you have more courage than I would (do)! :-D I hope you will e-mail me directly when you land somewhere; I'd love to hear how the next chapter of your story unfolds.
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    Jul 9 2012: Thanks for giving me a chance to think about my old age someday. I want to spend my time to help people with my ability not for the money but find and build myself esteem. My mom who is around the age 60 is actually working in a temple. At first, I persuaded her to quit the job because she did look tired. Whenever I tried her to stop working, she said " No, I can't. I'm really happy to find the place I'm needed. I'm old but I'm working. I feel I deserve to live in."  After I heard of those words, It was my eye opner. It was a valuable chance to understand my mom. I want to live like her at the old age.
  • Jul 3 2012: Erik, sorry, should have gone under my original post

    Fortunately, my student loan is manageable, I also had some financial resources available due to the loss of my husband and both parents to help offset expenses, plus being able to work as a nurse to keep the roof over the head and food in the belly!!
    I am excited about the next chapter in my life. Life is what you make it. I learned long ago that every day I wake up with options about how to spend the rest of my life and my attitude. After losing my family, I've learned that "things" are not as important in life as family and friends. I thank the Good Lord for allowing me to see another day of sunshine and don't sweat the small stuff, and it really is, all small stuff!!
    I would be happy to keep you apprised of my escapades as I blaze the trail, after all, life is a fabulous journey, not a destination!
    I plan on living up to the quotation; "Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to slide in sideways, totally worn out, shouting " Holy Crap, what a ride!".
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      Jul 5 2012: Dear Jean,
      I like the quotation: "Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to slide in sideways, totally worn out, shouting " Holy Crap, what a ride!".

      It reminds me of a Chinese proverb: "The Journey is the reward." It's like saying life is to live and live it!

      Best Wishes!
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        Jul 5 2012: Dear Jean, One more TEDdie who has been through so much! I am sorry to hear of your huge losses and I am delighted you are with us now.
        • Jul 6 2012: Thank you, Debra. I am happy to have found TED.com
      • Jul 6 2012: Teja, I agree, all of life is a journey and not a destination!
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    Jun 26 2012: I was hoping to teach English overseas but that has to be reconsidered.Perhaps I will get a PhD or another MA if anyone will have me and i will work to help restore lives like my own.
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    Jul 7 2012: I would like to be able to follow in my father's footsteps regarding this.

    He is 66 now. When he retired at 55, he had superannuation to rely on, so he was in the fortunate position of being able to go back to university and study what he wanted to. He studied optics first, and did a whole lot of astronomy stuff, up to and including building his own telescopes (which is not as expensive a hobby as you might think, since he ground his own mirrors, etc.) He also worked part time, more to keep busy than because he needed the money, as a sales assistant at an outdoors store.

    His health is failing now, so he has changed track, and is now silversmithing and jewellery making.

    I'm on disability, but I'm hoping that that's the sort of thing I'll be able to do then. As I am in Australia, I can work part time on disability, so I'm studying computer programming and plan to do some work in that field - I may still be doing that when I hit 60, if I keep up with all the changes :)
    • Jul 15 2012: Your father is fortunate he was able to retire on sufficient superannuation to make ends meet- I can't do that, nor am I eligible for a pension for another 5 years. It is the difficult circumstance of being motivated to work for a wage & not being able to find anything psychologically satisfying that bothers me at 60. Therefore I can't see life in front of me at all. If I must be dependent on someone else's income for support when it is the opposite to all my values, life is not worth living. I have lots of hobbies & interests but cannot do most of them because of lack of money for raw materials. I can't go to the theatre or ballet or travel to enjoy myself like people with income can do. It is quite discouraging. I hope you are able to keep up with things over the years so that you enjoy your time between 60 and 100!
  • Jul 6 2012: I went back to school full time at age 68. I picked up a graduate certificate from Algonquin College in their Documentary Production Program. I graduated with honours and made the Dean's list.

    Why Documentary Production?

    I got an honours degree in Physics in 1965 - but could find no work in Physics in Canada. I was offered a job as a Systems Engineer in Northern Electric - which turned out to be their first programming group. IT was my career for the next quarter century. I was then "downsized" from a middle management position.

    I next discovered General Markup Languages and stayed in this domain as a career until 2000. I quit, formed my own company, and stayed there ever since.

    I started to get contracts to produce video productions - prompting me to seek formal training in this subject. Hence the return to school.

    Will I ever get hired into a whole new career? Never. I deduced that the notion of a "career" or a "permanent job" disappeared around 1993 and shows no sign of ever returning. In 1993 I even wrote a blog entry - http://cyberspace-industries-2000.com/Disappearance.html

    I intend to spend what is remaining of my time on this planet continuing my consulting in general markup languages and documentary production. My current major effort is a historical doc - http://DanielDaverne.com

    BTW - the name is "Hugh" - Facebook knows nothing about middle names.
    • Jul 15 2012: I wish I had got into a field/some fields where I was wanted- I've tried several different fields but been shut out of them over time by regulations, politics & economics. Now my age is the barrier- if I ever get job interviews, I always lose to a younger, less experienced applicant, even for jobs having only a 12 month contract. I thought being a good health researcher would keep me in work for the foreseeable future, but it hasn't. Perhaps I should take up some useful but slightly difficult programming language and specialise in it?? I believe I could learn anything if it had the possibility of an income attached ultimately.
      • Jul 15 2012: I have given up on learning a YAPL (yet another programming language) - especially if it is just to learn that particular language. Learn C++ and the next job wants something else... and multiple years experience at it as well. I have noted that I cannot afford the "expense" in time and $ to learn any language - unless there is a high probability of generating some revenue from it.... and of course an employer does not want to incur the expense of you learning on the job.

        Of course if it is just for my own enjoyment - with no expectation of revenues - then I might proceed.

        I always taken the attitude that I would hire a "good programmer" rather than someone who just knows language X . A good programmer can transfer his/her skills to any language.
  • Jul 19 2012: After planning for retirement, I reached my goals and retired at 62. The few years since retiring have been "enlightening". I discovered just how unhappily married I was. I hadn't married my soul mate after all. I'm now happily divorced with less money but more freedom and happiness. Since my divorce I decided to NOT make big decisions for about a year and give myself some time to figure out a NEW plan for the next few years. My career went from Programmer Analyst to Recruiter and Career Advisor to Retiree. I'm not looking for full time work and it is so important to me to do something that has meaning to me. So far I'm finding meaning in volunteer work but there's no income and I'm missing the extra money that would help me feel more secure about living to 95. I also miss the structure of a job. My challenge will be to keep what ever it is within part time hours so that I still have the luxury of accomplishing other personal goals.
    Starting something new is exciting. I'm open to many things I would have thought were not challenging enough before or didn't pay enough. I know a lot about transferable skills and how to sell myself into a position. Some of the TED contributors were right! For someone motivated, all you need is an opening and you can create and morph into other positions. Once you have that position and have proven you have it under control , ask for opportunities that will help you gain the skills and experience to take you where you want to go. I believe this and have seen it over and over. If opportunities are not given to the most willing and deserving, evaluate your contribution, find out what plans your company has for you and if nothing is imminent, either up your game or go shopping for another job. (do not quit until you have the next job). I have just about 6 months and one more Beach Vacation before I go find the start of my next (part time) career. It wasn't in the old plan but now it's a wonderful new adventure!!
  • Jul 16 2012: I'm researching aquaponics and geodeisic with the hope to first provide food for my family, then later look to it for marketable organic produce and later possibly open a weekend restaurant with food from the garden/tanks. It's hard for a fifty-something retired secretary to find a place in this work force -- so often, the cost of working is more than the job actually pays. When I look at our largest expense, it is our groceries. So, it seems a sensible place to start.

    I'm also fascinated by Paul Stamets development of mushrooms to save the world. By using a dome garden system and developing worm beds and mushroom beds, the food from the soil that's built should provide the best immune systems for us, and the system provides the best use of irrigation to grow plants -- fish fertilize the water, plants, clean the water, water that is evaporated falls into the soil beds and solid wastes feed the worm bed who break down the extra plants and leaves. Seems like a win/win solution.
  • Gord G 50+

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    Jul 5 2012: I don't want to make a living when I'm that old. I want to make a meaning. If I'm at a time in my life when life itself is considered fortunate, I only wish to culminate it with a full disclosure of my understanding. Hanging on to the hope of prosperity in old age is void of the true value of the life you've lived.
    • Jul 15 2012: I don't wish for prosperity- just a small independent income from something meaningful until I become eligible for a pension in 5 years.
  • Jun 29 2012: When I reach that age (which is coming sooner than later I have recently realised), I'm going to do all the things I couldn't when I was the age I am now and create a better world for my children (if I have any!) and potentially my grandchildren and set a good example for them as they begin to explore life.

    Because life doesn't stop when your retire!

    It's an interesting argument though about retirement. I know my mum is currently in a situation where she would like to start a new career, but she is just over 50 and nowhere will really take her on for a position which could potentially see her through a promotional career.

    While I agree businesses need "young blood" so to say and give younger people opportunities, the older generation need the same opportunities. It should be not down to how old you are, it should be how experienced you are and who could contribute most to that business.
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    Jun 29 2012: My husband is a carpenter. He has been a working carpenter since he was about 10, he is 52 now. He has no retirement, medical, dental, vision, disability insurance, pension. I have worked seasonal and part-time forever and am fortunate enough to have VA medical (bare bones no dental/vision).

    We are working in several areas 1 cut our cost of living expenses 2 grow much of our own food 3 turn our life-long skill set into a small business of our own-- making furniture/art etc... I don't see 100 in our future; maybe 80 ish, maybe 30 more years. The future in this country is looking bleak.
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      Jun 29 2012: Thanks for adding your perspective, Joy. I think you've really hit something on the head, and that is a return to some time-tested ways of life: growing some of our own food, small businesses out of the home, and so on. That's a great direction of change that I hadn't listed in my other post, and such things can help counterbalance - even if only a little - the corporatization of the world.
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      Jul 8 2012: You have a huge amount to offer Joy. You could write a book based on your knowledge of the desert or other subject. We should never forget the value people in the older age bracket mean for us as a society. I learn this valuable lesson from our polynesian Kiwis, Samoans Tongans and the indigenous Maori. The older you are in these cultures the more precious. Your word is worth ten times that of someone half your age. Since our society has become too materialistic, some of us have forgotten some of the most important community values; that it is the older ones among us who carry our societies best wisdom.
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        Jul 8 2012: I wish more people feel like you about age and wisdom. I often ask me parents for help and though they may not remember small details the advice they give me about how to be a decent human being is invaluable to me; and as it turns out also to my daughter and her children. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your insightful comment. You also are precious.
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    Jun 26 2012: I'm in my mid 30's, and my friends and I are just trying to cope with how much the world has changed in the last 5 or so years, let alone 30...
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    Jul 23 2012: I shall be wiser, wasting less my precious time. That's crucial.
    I think going to school is also appropriate, grey cells are practicing.
    That's healthy.
    So, don't worry, be happy:)))
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    Jul 23 2012: I want to feel like I am more in a place of life where I feel that I can "be" instead of "do". I believe that the first years of your life is more about doing than being. You have to explore the world and meet a lot of different people and try out your boundaries by doing new, sometimes crazy stuff. But when you grow older it is all about "being", being you and being at peace with your life. Imagine just sit on a bench in the park a whole day and feel like everything is wonderful and you have everything you ever want. To be able to see all the colours around you all the time and all the great things in the little things. I want to be that person.
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    Jul 21 2012: Retirement now has to be re-imagined. In fact I suspect it will disappear from the vocabulary of many people. not least because of economic necessity but because of the ideas attached to the word. Maybe there will be third age entrepreneurs that create opportunities for others. Passive income for a lot is not feasible, because for the majority of us planning is often limited to the next week never mind the next 10-20 years.
    I suspect communities will rise up again with fresh fervour based around passion and the image of a mature in years person will change from a sedate rocking chair to one of either mental or physical activity still able and willing to participate fully in life.
  • Jul 19 2012: I plan on moving into the Rock Till Ya Drop ... a community for musicians, artist of all types and everyone else who simply loves live music and the arts. While just a concept now, we plan to design and build this community as a grassroots, cooperative project.

    Our mission is to provide very affordable housing (purchased or rented) to musicians and artist who have given so much to us for the last 40 or 50 years yet do not have the financial resources necessary to retire in a decent way. Unless you have made it big somewhere along the way, most musicians and artist don't have a pension or 401K to retire on (think starving artist?)

    We plan to build this community of 1000+ residents around a town square anchored with a multi-purpose performance venue and surrounded by restaurants, bars, shops and studios. Additionally, we plan on having several 'garages' specifically designed for folks to jam or just hang out with the types of people we really would like to hang with.

    Like I said it's just a concept now but we are looking for others thoughts and ideas... got any?
  • N SHR

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    Jul 11 2012: I will try to pick a job that I love so much that I never feel the need to retire (unless I get some disability!)
    Looking at many senior and respected researchers and university professors around me, I know that's possible :)
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      Jul 11 2012: Doesn't your university push people out into emeritus status? I know that is a problem at some schools because it provides budget room in the gap between senior faculty and adjuncts/associates.
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        Jul 12 2012: Erik, in Canada there is legislation against age discrimiination so only firefighters and police officers have to retire at 60 (I believe) because they are essential services.
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    • Jul 15 2012: You poor sod! Did you get involved in a shared retirement community scheme that went down the gurgler? Paid a huge "deposit" and discover you didn't own anything because your funds were squandered? It's happening a lot in Australia and the children of retirement home residents are also very angry as there is nothing left for them to inherit! My dad died in a Salvation Army Retirement Hostel while I was trying to sell his house to pay the $45 000 "deposit"! I couldn't even raise the $8 000 required for his first year because I had just taken out a mortgage to buy my own home. My father finally raised the initial $8 000 by selling all his remaining assets but the money disappeared from his savings tin in his wardrobe at the Hostel in the time between when he died & the time & could travel there to organise his estate & funeral (2 days traveling across Australia). I hope you are OK- do you have a "decent" place to live? You look OK in your picture. You need some sort of class action to claim your rightful deserts. [[hugs]]
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    Jul 9 2012: With all due respect, You have asked One Questions which Satisfies two aims, Spending Time & Make a Living,

    I would like to divide them first, Spending Time, depends totally on your interests & hobbies, Now when you are at 60 to 100 Most of your hobbies become diificult, for eg: Outdoor activities
    So create New Hobbies & take Interest in things which suits your age.

    Second, Making a Living, This is a bit difficult Question, But their are options, depending on your health & Background, You have to be Very Selective, Because opposite to your Young age, Now you are planning a career when you are not strong, So a career Should be Something, which Don't Need Much of a Precision & Should not be Multitasking, (Generalized View, for Common People), Save Energy to live Longer & HEALTHIER life. Most Importantly, Spend Some time with your Family, which you ignored all your life.

    Now Combining Both Making a Living & Spending Time, can be answered with below example.
    Eg: book Writing, can be a career in which you decide, When & how much time you can give.
  • Jul 2 2012: I am 60. I worked in universities as a lecturer for 11 years, then as a mental health researcher for 15 years. For 12 years I have been unable to get a full-time job, although I managed a few part-time ones until 5 years ago. I became so depressed that I am now not very suitable to work more than a few hours per day, but I have no work anyway. I have no superannuation or investments to live on & must depend on my defacto, which humiliates me no end. I haven't the faintest idea how I can exist until the end of this year, let alone until I am 100 [which is what I used to aim for as my father died at 95 of a congenital heart condition!]. I cannot see a future. Others live for their children & grand children but I've never had any due to physical health & circumstances. I enrolled in a Master of Public Health to get a new direction but no one wants to employ me. Even my supervisor says I probably won't work again, even though I am an excellent researcher & have published more than 20 papers. If I had the hope of getting a job as an older worker, I would gladly study anything as the prospect of being a checkout operator (all I have been offered) would make me suicide. I have really tried hard to take a new direction, I've done well in my studies & attacked my depression, made new friends & countless connections. However I cannot summon any hope nor "see" beyond the end of 2012. HELP!
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      Jul 2 2012: Kay

      You need one stable thing which is a job, take the checkout operator position. The work itself is cathartic and will help you.
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          Jul 7 2012: I'm not acting like anything.

          Kay was offered the job as checkout operator. I must be a moron?

          Question what does cathartic mean?
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      Jul 3 2012: I agree. Start small, and build your way back up. Being a checkout operator is as good a starting point as any, do well, show good work habits, promotion from there is the next small step. Before you know it, you'll have fresh experience under your belt, and that gives you leverage.
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      Jul 3 2012: Kay, dont work at the checkout, and dont lose heart. I know someone who picked himself up at your age after a marriage break up and is today a wealthy, successful businessman. He has a young wife and two young children to boot. I have another friend, female of the same age, who just completed her masters and is offered promotion after promotion at her work. My aunt fell in love at sixty two with a man 15 years her junior. They are married and still live together.

      Depression is crippling at whatever age it strikes. Change alone can bring on depression. Remember it is a condition, it is a feeling that can and will pass. Look for positive reinforcement among your friends. Those who do not know your strengths and want to tell you only about your weaknesses are not your friends. Dont listen to anyone who says you cannot get a job in your field. Why is that? You say you are good at it, then what is the problem? Employers PREFER younger staff? Aren't there laws against this kind of discrimanatory practice in your country? It is unethical, and probably illegal, if that has been happening to you. Fight back! An open letter to the paper exposing such practice would be a starting point.

      In the Institute where I am on the staff, two of my most valued colleagues on our teaching staff are well over sixty five. I dont even notice their age, why should I be interested in that? They are wise and respected teachers.

      I think Kay, perhaps you have a self perception problem? This you can change with reflection and meditation and by consciously deciding to believe in yourself again. When you change your own self perception, others will change theirs. Now get off TED have a nice cup of tea, a bit of a girlie makeover and go get a good job!
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      Jul 5 2012: Dear Kay,
      Your age should not be a burden, especially when you are convinced of your capabilities. My teacher, a Buddhist monk, is 65 and is still teaching at the university of Hong Kong (Centre of Buddhist Studies). There is also another professor who is in his 80s and still teaches.
      It seems so frustrating to hear of the society telling us what we cannot do. Aging is a fact of life, and the young people need to understand this. The fact that someone has aged does not make him/her unworthy of a life. He/she is still a part of this universe, of the inter-connectivity of life, and can still contribute, at least in some small ways.

      As to depression, I agree with Joanne that it "is crippling at whatever age it strikes." It cripples me also at times, although i'm still 22. But Kay, you have already journeyed a lot and know, perhaps, a lot more about life, about aging, relationship, etc, of which we young people might still be ignorant. And this seems a chance for you, if you find happiness in it, to educate the young world regarding aging, life, etc. You can find some people, young or old, and start a movement. Encourage people to study old-age, and I hope one day the subject can be incorporated in College or University syllabuses. (This is what I hope to do, after I can establish myself. I'm still financially dependent on others, so probably not now). It is just a suggestion, in case you have no other ways. It will keep you occupied and will probably generate deeper understanding of life. I have grown up hearing and learning that true understanding keeps the mind away from emotional agitation and thereby gives us happiness. (It is the purpose of meditation to generate understanding by developing the mind)

      Best Wishes!
    • Jul 13 2012: Kay,

      I worked at a supermarket as a checkout clerk once. At the time I was in my early 20s and had been unemployed for 9 months. My girlfriend’s parents were buying extra groceries to give to us so we could eat, and helping with the rent -- which injured my pride deeply. I had been fired from my last job after working there for 5 years, and as it was my only job experience I believed that no one had any reason to higher me. I was becoming more and more depressed about my situation everyday -- which was only making it worse.

      One day my girlfriend came to me and said that her mom knew someone at a supermarket and could get me hired as a clerk. I HATED the idea. I felt like it was a major step back, I couldn’t stand the thought of my friends seeing me there, and I felt like it was demeaning. But I also knew we needed money, and I could not say no. So I took the first step and said yes.

      I didn’t want to do it so badly, that I honestly wasn’t sure I was going to go through with it until after my interview was over. I kept thinking, “there has to be another way.” Still I continued to tell myself that it didn’t matter if there was another way, because taking this job wasn’t going to prevent me from doing that too. This was an opportunity I had to take, no matter how badly I didn’t want to do it.

      It was actually pretty fun :-) I got to talk to people of all ages about so many different things, It gave me the ability to get back on my feet and stop relying on my girlfriends parents (a big relief), and most importantly it got me walking out the door every day :-) So, just remember, if what you’re doing hasn’t solved the problem yet, then you need to just get up and take the opportunity that you have. It won’t prevent you from continuing to think of something you would rather do more, and taking other opportunities that may come along. But it will get you back on your feet.
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      Jun 29 2012: "If you are holding back on your zest now don't we don't know when we will die." The woman who almost died in December -out of the blue- wants to second this profound statement in the hope of encouraging you all to live bravely as Myfanwy is doing!
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          Jun 29 2012: No more crap days for you young lady! However, as you said you have more than prevailed.
  • Jun 27 2012: I would do what I am doing right now and that is Living each day like was my Last. Taking nothing and no one for granted. Appreciating the little things in life like good conversation, Family and Friends, Sunrises and Sunsets. and last but not least, Continue to Learn and share what I have learned with others till the day I die.
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    Jun 26 2012: I'll do my bucket list.
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    Jun 26 2012: Since free schools will probably have disappear by then, i'd love to teach to my grand children some useful things to now about the past i lived through. But seriously, "making a living" while you are already alive makes no sens.. I'm 38, I hope people will have stopped to obey ignorants before I'll turn 60 : I doubt I want to live another 40 years in such an obscure and morbid world.
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    Jun 26 2012: Plan to make a living from the returns on my investments built up over 40+ years.

    Will spend my time doing things that are not primarily to make money.
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      Jun 26 2012: I like that plan. I screwed it up early on by becoming a schoolteacher, but it's a good plan nonetheless. :-D
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      Jun 26 2012: Obey,
      Be careful about that...living from returns on investments!!! That was/is my plan as well, and a good one it was when the market was different and my life was different. It appeared that I had enough invested to live on the interest. I need to be much more frugal now, and am still living life to the fullest, as I can at any given time:>)

      I "retired" early, mostly because of a near fatal head injury which causes some complications at times, and you know what has happened to investments!!! Things change, life changes, and we make adjustments to the best of our ability. It's always nice to have a plan AND be prepared to adjust if the plan changes because of life circumstances.

      I've done a lot of volunteer work, which is very rewarding, educational, and beneficial to me and the whole of humankind.....hopefully:>)

      I don't think you screwed anything up. From what I've read of your comments, I bet you were/are a GREAT teacher, and that is very much needed in our world:>)
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        Jun 26 2012: Gee, thanks, Colleen. I love my kids, I just meant I screwed up my chance of retiring to live off of my investments. :-D
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          Jun 27 2012: You'll have teachers retirement, which is looking a little more secure than investments:>)
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          Jun 27 2012: Sorry to hear that. I guess if we have to work for a living great if you do something you enjoy and contribute in a meaningful way.

          Funny but my wife has an entrepreneurial spirit and would probably life to run a business till she drops. I'd rather travel while healthy, read, study, coffee & friends etc. Might get bored after a while and need some projects.
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        Jun 26 2012: Yes it is a worry. A lot vanished in the GFC. If closer to retirement I would shift to cash/TD but then the interest rates are so low now in many places. Also, at some stage we might start consuming the principle. Don't plan to live forever and next generation will get a good education and much support but won't need to get our entire peak net wealth when we move on.
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    Jun 26 2012: I like your question and your vision..that there may well be 2nd career opportunities after 60.

    I retired at 53. 13 years ago with a vision of a conventional retirement,,more time for things I enjoy. But strangely, as a citizen lobbyist on no one;s pay roll I am doing what I always did and in many ways (partly thanks to the internet) do it better than ever and enjoy it very very much. ( And that's after a 5year cancer challenge) .

    Everyone else I know over 60 is still also "in the prime" as well. My 80 year old furniture maker ust made me a set of three doors I designed on the back of an envelope..faster and better than anyone else could. Most of my freinds are thinking 70 for retirement. So there certainly is ability and willingness, I'd say.

    But the question is how much work will there be? Will there be enough for their to be jobs for young people starting out and for a very big stack of 60-100 year olds?

    In the 70's the vision was for 4 day work week for everyone Earning enough to live on in 4 days aweek. But real wages have actually declined..at least in America so the majority of households require two full time jobs 5 or 6 days a week just to stay afloat

    .With more and more automation there will be fewer and fewer jobs associated with every dollar of GDP.

    I think the global population has to shrink dramatically for their to be full employment let alone opportunity for seniors like me to stay on payroll or seek second careers...but maybe more of us instead of looking forward to leisure will end up doing high level professional work pro bono and getting something like frequent flyer credits good for tax credits and discounts at classy hotels and on elegant trains.
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      Jun 29 2012: I agree that there is an interesting question in how much opportunioty there is and will be over the years even for volunteerism (much less employment) for the aging population. My future lies in volunteering within my city, which I do already now alongside my work, but I have noticed that opportunities connected to existing organizations in areas other than fund-raising, parks or street maintenance, or event-based volunteering at marches and fairs can be hard to come by! It can require a network and competitive interviewing just as job-finding does.
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        Jun 29 2012: Fritzie..such an interesting point you are making.

        Organized volunteer programs require an investment in oversight and coordination and therefore funding So as performance and budget pressures mount on main programs, just at the time when volunteers could be most useful and critically needed the organizations ability to utilize volunteers is often also most impaired.

        Satewide volunteers for Headstart are coordinated through a third party provider under whom all Head Start Programs are administered. That seems to help in enabling a wise and efficient use of volunteers without adding to to the burden of the local programs.

        My own strategy is to figure out where my professional background is most useful and just start doing things and just making sure with local programs that the initiative is needed and appropriate for their curriculum and milestones. I think in these times volunteers have to have that kind of self starter entrepreneurial approach to volunteering.

        I also do what I consider volunteering ad hoc through my blogging at newspapers..

        So, I think we volunteers have to be self starters and self directed to be useful to the enterprises we might have valuable pro bono services to offer.
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          Jun 29 2012: You are right, of course, but your credentials and personality are an asset that so many people do not have who would also love to conttribute. It is part of the way some people become marginalized from productive engagement even in terms of volunteer service.
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        Jun 29 2012: Fitizie..I think you are making an extremely important point here.. I wonder f you could say a bit more ..

        But don't you also think Fritzie that volunteers have to be self starters? I get the impression that people volunteer as a way to make friends...rather than bring their own expertise into play at a more professional level but as volunteers.

        Clearly we need a better system for plugging in the value professional level reosurces people are willing to offer pro bono.
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          Jun 29 2012: I don't think people volunteer mostly to make friends. I believe people volunteer mainly for one of two reasons. First, they do so to make a difference and to be part of an organization they believe in. Second, those who are younger or earlier in their work lives may volunteer to gain skills that may prove useful in further employment.

          I think there is a difference between being a self-starter and one who has a talent for getting his foot in the door in the first place. Getting a foot in the door often comes from credentials, good self marketing (which requires a certain personality), and connections. This is true even if the task at hand requires none of those attributes.

          And an unemplyed professional seeki ng opportunities to volunteer professional services I am guessing would have a harder time getting an opportunity than someone still employed in his field and offering to volunteer as well. This is only a hypothesis for which I have no supporting data, but I suspect it is much like how employers in screening applications for positions favor those who are working over those who are not at the time of application.
  • Jun 25 2012: This is really good and interesting topic.

    I agree that many of us will have to continue to work past 65. However I think it will be hard. While people can stay pretty mentally capable past age 65, physically we seem to age faster. What will people that work in construction industry, warehouses and other labour intensive jobs do? Perhaps they need to retrain for less labour intensive skills. That will be very hard as they will have to suddenly go back to school at such late age.

    I also think that with continuing automation we will see decline in opportunities for jobs that require little or no education. Self driving cars, taxes, trucks etc. are not far away (20 years?). With increased automation we will need more people in high-tech industry.

    Personally after 65 I plan to work only part time and I will spend rest of the time volunteering and with my grandchildren =)

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      Jun 25 2012: Work part time at what? It seems like such a waste to take a lifetime of experience and spend it as a Wal-Mart greeter (or the equivalent).
      • Jun 26 2012: With enough experience one can work as a PT consultant, have a part-time arrangement at a company or even own company and take enough customers to keep oneself busy PT.

        This is especially true in the IT industry but should also be possible in other areas of employment.
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        Jun 29 2012: I don't live near a Walmart, but I certainly know educated retired people who staff visitors desks at museums and hospitals and find that that sort of service work suits them now after their lifetimes of experience as engineers or in nursing... We can serve by who we are, not just by what technical skills we may have.
  • Jul 22 2012: One may see humanity future abundant of products humans need. Perhaps in very near future one's need of hunger, clothing, shelter, etc. will be satisfied by an robotic network available all around the globe and even some outer space.

    Even today more than 20% of people (USA followed by almost every country) are "unemployed". In other words the other part of humans using today's technology manage to produce enough goods and services for all. One may consider also the fact that not all those goods and services really satisfy needs - some of them are based on "wants". Also may consider people who just wait for the end of the month doing noting productive to get paid (not because they want to - but because this is the "job"). Productive part (even today) in the most cases - looks to be done by machines.

    One of the versions of answer may be offered here can be that we will not have to retire in the world where no one has job. All we may do that time is to travel, learn directly in the field and create/invent/update new, open source solutions for humanity use. Monetary system perhaps will disappear since it's not needed anymore in abundant world. Anytime, anywhere on the planet we will be able to benefit from shelter, transportation, food...

    Tomorrow we may change our "job"/location every single day - and the only pay back we will benefit from may be that our ideas/results will get implemented in global technological solutions to serve humanity we are part of.

    In fact, looks pretty hard to guess what human may do in the future since environment changes so fast that tomorrow may look completely an alien world for today's humans."
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      Jul 23 2012: I like your ideas, Dorian. Unfortunately, there will always be people who try to artificially restrict the supply in order to profit. Leisure time and technology are (and will continue to be) no different than diamonds in that respect. Look at businesses today. They could EASILY give their employees more vacation time - but then the company that gave more vacation time might fall behind the profit level of the ocmpany that didn't (let's set aside worker morale - that's a whole separate discussion). That means the people at the top don't make as fat a profit this quarter, and the ripples of oppression spread from there . . .

      Thinking of a solution path for that, though, opens up the door to some really interesting possibilities.
      • Jul 23 2012: 100 years ago the majority of humans on Earth would tell you with certainty: "humans will never fly - and it will be always this way".