Monday, October 10, 2011

Did You Like It Better Back Then? 2011 Post

I wrote this article back in 2011. As we look back to that time, I realize that I am so much better off than I was then. For those of you that were caught in the storm of 2009 I wonder, have you adjusted or did things change enough that it didn't turn out as bad as you imagined it would?

I woke up thinking about the theory of evolution this morning. You know, that idea that things change for reasons we don't or won't understand. We all know that "retirement" is not what it was for a short period of time in the 20th century. Back then we believed the notion that "early retirement" was an attainable goal for everyone. 

Dreams of houses at the beach helped people in cold climates to get through the frigid winter and our nation was so prosperous we believed anyone could have one. We may not like it but those day are gone, maybe forever. So, do you like new ideas and concepts? It could be we had better get used to some new things. There is no escaping today and it's reality. Here is what I think.
Choices at the Crossroads

Life in retirement/old age might be morphing into something new and even wonderful. As with the bird that was born with two white feathers on the back of his head that looked like eyes was able to survive longer than those that did not get those feathers, those that are able to grow new ideas will survive and become even be stronger. Those that are not flexible or smart enough to make some changes in expectations and lifestyle, will not experience the full joy of their old age.

In the world of nature, the strong endure and the weak whine and die. Mankind and animals evolved because forces of nature require change in order for them to survive. It is a hard truth. Could it be that, given the forces in play now, the average American's expectations for old age will evolve? Will factors like economic climate and the expanded life expectancy force our citizens to change? Will it be like that time when man was old at 30 and something happened in nature or knowledge that allowed man to live to 40. The reality was humans had to work to live. There was no stopping at 30 even though that was the way their ancestors had done it. As we grow older we have to work longer.

Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you view this time on this earth, we are living longer. We are finding ways to remain active and healthy much later in life. My grandparents were old at 70. They wore false teeth and lived a very small life. My grandfather worked until he was 72. Then he sat down and waited to die. They did not want much more when they quit working. As the aging process slows, we are finding that our desire to grow and reap rewards is not stopping at age 62 when we can begin to collect Social Security. It is said that age 50 is now the new 40. Maybe age 62 is now the new 52. And the new 72 will become the new 62 (when we begin collecting Social Security).

Now people are not done living when they retire. They want an enjoyable retirement full of adventure. They are faced with the possibility that the financial benefits are not going to be what they need to fulfill their dreams. If they continue to want a better or even equal lifestyle, they are going to have to continue working. The economic realities and extended life span have changed all the rules.

I had thought, "Just get over it!" It has been my feeling that people are too attached to their possessions and money. "Why" I kept thinking, "can't they just live on what they are making?"

 Am I wrong? Could it be that Americans have come to a crossroads? Are they willing to face the changes that are necessary as a result of living longer? 

There are many choices. Will they adjust to their longer life span in today's economy and see that being productive for an extended period of time is necessary if they are to have their dream retirement? Will they see the advantage of living life as they go along not waiting for a retirement that won't happen nearly as soon as they thought it would? Oh better yet, will they see that a simpler life can be happier than one filled with dissatisfaction? 

Just a thought.

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