I find it fascinating that retirement – like the job – is dissolving as a concept. Pre the Industrial Revolution there were no jobs – just work. Mainly farm work. Nowadays Work – with the Gig economy, and the growth in self-employment, is again becoming the norm. And as it does so, it is replacing the concept of the job, and with it the conventional idea of the pension, and thus, retirement.
So people are increasingly finding they can’t afford to retire.
The good news is we are living longer and healthier. So there is a great opportunity to find new energy and purpose in our later years, to make those years the best of our lives.
I believe passionately that if we take back control of our lives we can gain huge satisfaction, fun and fulfilment as we enter, and enjoy our later years.
Earlier this year RedDoor published Generation Cherry. It is called Generation Cherry because that my generation has been extremely lucky. We had free education (student loans were unheard of), a good health service, we could buy our own property which became more and more valuable as time went by. Jobs were plentiful – we could pick and choose. They had pensions. We had a cherry on life. In fact, we were Generation Cherry.
The book distills the learning I have undergone from my rich experience as a Second Biter (someone getting a second bit of the cherry) over the past couple of decades.
I am now seventy three. It took more than twenty years to learn how to cope effectively with the challenges of recovering from the loss of my company which crashed in the 1992 recession. (It had been very successful, and I had built it, with a partner, over fourteen years). Since then, I have had to create my own income, and my own sense of achievement and respect, outside the conventional job system.
The lessons I have learned underpin the book. They are crystallised in the Four Autonomies . They give you control. They are Earning, Learning, Giving and Recharging. They are the act of taking control (gaining autonomy) in your life. Earning, to give you income, and to keep you in touch with the real world; Learning to keep you plugged in, and growing, as a human being; Giving back, socially and financially, as it’s a win/win thing to do; and recharging, to make sure you are relaxed, stimulated, and full of energy.
And the extra Autonomy is Enlightened Thrift, to ensure we value what we have, and are prepared, if necessary, to have less. It’s made easier by the fact that all the good things in life – friendship, jokes, love, sunsets – are absolutely free.
Ironically, the book started out as a book for the young as well as the more mature in years. Many young people don’t have highly paid jobs, but they do find worthwhile and satisfying work, and this was the inspiration for the book. My daughters and their friends were cases in point (and, interestingly, have responded very positively to the book)
The book is about getting – and enjoying – a very juicy second bite of that cherry.