Life After 50 – The Working Life Off-Ramp

This week one of the legends in the country music media community announced his plan to retire. Gerry House, a baby boomer who has hosted Nashville’s top rated morning radio show for over 30 years, is pulling the plug.

Gerry is only 60 and is at the top of his game. So why is he doing this?

The catalyst for Gerry’s surprising decision was actually a sad event, the death of a close friend. But his reasoning is more elegant and applicable to all of us who are 50+.

We want to take the working life off-ramp. We know there are more paths to take and more things to do at the end of that ramp.

Most younger folks haven’t realized this. They are too busy raising kids, working for the money, and thinking about the here and now. That’s not so bad except that they tend to believe the “nows” will always be here.

We – the members of the over-50 generation – know different. We know things the younger folks haven’t yet figured out.

We know that there won’t always be a “tomorrow.”

We know that money his nice but time is better.

We know that accomplishments at the office will not sustain our spirit or assure us that our life has meant something.

We know that we don’t know everything.

This list could go on. I don’t want to brag about baby boomers, because we’ve made plenty of mistakes. Let’s just say that life after 50 comes packaged with important accessories: experience and wisdom, earned the hard way.

Although I’m still working hard, I’ve mentally turned toward the working life off ramp. I’m loving it. I’ll give you three reasons.

I’ve shed myself of work I don’t like to do. People on the off-ramp can do that. We’re not trying to impress the boss and get promoted. What does getting promoted gain you except more responsibility and less time? You could say that my job and some of my former clients have been demoted on the “life-importance scale.”

I’ve simplified my life. People with experience realize that much of our “stuff” contributes very little to the pleasures of life. For example, my style test for clothes has migrated from “is it still cool?” to “does it have obvious stains?”

I can see a different future. Younger folks tend to work for the weekends and periodic vacations. I was one of them. Now that our kids are mostly educated, off the payroll, and not in jail, we can say “first mission accomplished.” New interests (and some long deferred) are there to be pursued, on our schedule.

I intend to stay on this working life off-ramp for a while and enjoy the ride. How about you?

FYI: I’m trying to blog my way to the AARP Orlando@50 conference. This blog post is an entry in their competition to find the official blogger to travel to and cover the event. Find out more about the conference¬†here.


  1. Another Reader says

    And this is precisely the basis for the prejudice against folks over 50 in employment. The belief is younger employees are more motivated, as well as cheaper, healthier, and more energetic. You have just reinforced that belief for any of your readers with hiring and layoff responsiblities.

    • Mr. GoTo says

      I am very motivated to do the work that I like to do. No person – young or old – is motivated to do work that is unpleasant, so employers sacrifice nothing by hiring me. I just like the freedom to say “no.”

  2. says

    I think the important – or at least the ethical – thing I did was to tell my boss that I was taking the off-ramp. I didn’t really have an opportunity to shed the superfluous work – that was 99% of my job and I was the only one doing it – but, as I simplified my life and got closer to my jump date, life became more beautiful anyway. I can’t speak for Another Reader’s experience; but the folks being interviewed for my job may or may not have been healthier and more energetic, but they all expected more pay and were less committed to doing the job.

  3. says

    Congratulations on winning the AARP contest. I am looking forward to a revue of all that you observe while there. If you get to meet Dave Barry please tell him he has a fan in Arizona that miss his funny articles more than she can say.

  4. Nathan says

    Loved this are a winner not only in the contest but in real life also because of your understanding of where you are and how you want to proceed.

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