I returned from my 45th year high school reunion on Monday morning. I had a fantastic time at the reunion events and enjoying other activities with my high school friends. I think I smiled – at least internally – the entire long weekend. I also came away with some new and updated baby boomer insights.
If these are our golden years, don’t you think it’s because friends and family are worth their weight in gold?
Second, the gaps between the well preserved and the less well preserved members of our class of 1969 seem to be widening. That is not a judgment – just a commentary. (One of my new mantras to live by is “be curious, not judgmental.”) I have no idea where I fit in the spectrum of age preservation, except that apparently several classmates confused me with a friend (who did not attend) who not only lost most of his hair years ago but otherwise looks nothing like me. Ouch!
Third, I followed through on my plan to learn as much as I could from my classmates about their retirement plans and experiences. From this, I confirmed that my boomer classmates are all over the map on retirement readiness and execution. This is not surprising. Here are some examples:
- One classmate recently left the corporate world to become a middle school science teacher. He loves it. On the flipside, another classmate just retired from being a long-time school teacher. He has no idea what’s next but said that school politics drove him away from the profession.
- A classmate recently transitioned from owning an insurance business to helping a charitable foundation distribute grant money to deserving recipients. How cool is that for a second act? It kind of reminds me of the old TV series “The Millionaire“. Do you remember watching that show?
- Several classmates are struggling to find meaningful work, in part because of their age. A sad case was a long-time media industry professional who is now stuck working at Walmart to keep the lights on.
- One classmate is ready to retire and has lots to keep her happily busy. The problem is that her husband may be the type who will never retire. They need to get on the same page at some point or at least devise a plan that will work for both of them.
- Another classmate is self-employed in a financial career. She is passionate about her creative interests (dance, specifically) but is uncertain about when to pull the plug on her own business to make more time for her other interests. I think part of the problem is that she is single which creates more uncertainty as to what lies beyond the working life. I know the feeling.
These stories inspired me to think deeper about my own retirement plans. If any of you have an opportunity to attend your high school reunion, I encourage you to use it as a learning opportunity and not just a trip down memory lane.
As a final note to this experience, when I wrote earlier how I was anticipating this reunion, I mentioned some concern about having to discuss my recent change to being a single guy. That did not become a problem. What was interesting were the encouraging comments and emails I received from a few readers about this. The assumption was that I was recently divorced. I think I’ll leave it at that for now.