"A society grows great when old men plant trees under whose shade they shall never sit." – Greek Proverb
Why is aging viewed negatively and often from the perspective of money? What if the coming influx of baby boomer retirees were not seen as a financial drain on society; what if instead these baby boomers were entering "a new stage of life, an encore phase, ripe with promise?" Thus, what if rather than draining society, they change it for the better? The preceding questions were raised by Marc Freedman, founder of Encore.org, whose keynote address at the Financial Planning Association’s (FPA) 2016 Retreat was the culmination of the retreat’s theme of shared wisdom and stories. Freedman’s vision is lofty, but quickly summarized. He has set out "to transform the aging of America."
When presented, Freedman’s vision makes perfect sense. After all, who of us have not learned from mentors—those wiser than us, often older, but certainly with more life experience? Why on earth should we as a society dismiss these folks without allowing them to share the wisdom they’ve spent years, sweat and tears acquiring?
Freedman challenged that perhaps the desire to pull back from one’s career could simultaneously present the opportunity to serve the community in a unique and impactful way. What if instead of thinking about what we’re retiring "from", we could get excited about what we’re retiring “to?” And what if by making that mental shift, it allowed us to transition sooner away from a career that has worn us thin and left us burned out? Perhaps, an “encore career” could provide fulfillment and impact change while also providing financial support even before full retirement. I get excited for our clients just thinking about it.
Ecnore.org has worked with universities such as Tulane to provide grants for further education for retirees to prepare for “encore careers” and has also worked to create fellowships and internships for retirees. Additionally, Freedman and Encore.org created the Purpose Prize in 2005 which honors individuals over the age of 60 who, through their encore careers, have powerfully impacted their communities.
I was inspired simply by reading the brief intros to a handful of the forty-one pages of past Purpose Prize winners. These individuals—some retired physicians, judges, teachers—transitioned toward an encore career and used their years of wisdom and experience to impact change. I encourage you to read some of their stories. It may just shift your view of retirement—and generations to come may be very grateful for that.
We strive to help our clients combine their desire for financial freedom with their deepest core values and passions. Our financial planning process includes an in-depth Discovery phase, which gives the opportunity to ponder and define what a fulfilling and ideal "after career" period may look like. After all, racing down the road toward one’s retirement date isn’t productive if the car is pointed in the wrong direction.
In closing, if you’ve not seen the movie, "The Intern," I encourage you to see it. Freedman mentioned it in his keynote address, which prompted me to watch it upon my return. In the movie, Robert De Niro, a retired executive, takes an internship with a start-up fashion company in Brooklyn, New York. The influence he has on his young coworkers and the company’s founder (Anne Hathaway) will warm your heart. Upon first hearing about the movie in 2015, it seemed like a new and perhaps even silly thought—a 70-year-old taking an internship. Little did I know that Freedman and Encore.org can tell story upon story of even more inspiring and impactful encore careers.
Visit our financial planning page to learn more about our process.