In the 1960s and 70s, working girls came out in force. They began careers in greater numbers than ever before, breaking through stereotypes and barriers to become an essential part of the economy. They changed how workers looked, thought and acted. We were two of them.
Now, we are all beginning to retire.
We are very different from the retirees of the 1950s. We are women. We have a long runway ahead. We lived and worked in the wider world, and we don’t want to give it up. We are thrilled to reboot, but we do not plan to spend the next third of our lives in rocking chairs or playing golf.
We have no role models. We, those of us in the first big wave of career women, are the role models. We are at the forefront of a vibrant group of women who have a new vision for retirement. We needed a place to share cutting edge ideas devoted to redefining the next stage of our lives. So, after we retired from successful legal careers, we co-founded Lustre.net, an online community for modern career women.
Here are four key action strategies we have drawn from our own experiences:
- You have a third of your life ahead of you. Take charge. Retirement looms large, and then it hits hard. But don’t let it overwhelm you. Remember, it’s not the end: it’s the beginning of an amazing new adventure. We have worked for decades; we know what to do. Take charge. We have built a strong foundation for taking on new challenges. We were trailblazers before. If we embrace this new paradigm, we can blaze a new trail again — blasting through tired and outdated stereotypes about retirement and age. Make people see you for who you are — vibrant and vital and far from done.
- You are still you. Like us, you probably worked hard to create your identity as a modern working woman. Now, without a job, who are you? Like us, you may have an identity crisis. It took us a while to remember we were still who we had been the day before we retired. So are you. Remember your many assets, fight the negatives and define yourself by what you choose to do next.
- Your age gives you power. Are you uneasy about being in your 60s or 70s and outside the workforce? Do people act as if you, an older woman without a career, are no longer relevant? Don’t listen to them. Use your wisdom, confidence and experience to challenge those stereotypes. Being without a job is destabilizing but also liberating. You are no longer in the race — you have arrived. Now you can use your powers to change retirement.
- Find your new purpose. Purpose has been important in all of our lives — the purpose we found in our jobs, the purpose we found in our families, the purpose we found in living each day. Purpose is still important. Purpose will keep us visible, valued and engaged in the world. In the olden days, when retirement lasted for a few years, purpose did not play a central role. In the new paradigm, our runway is long, and purpose is key. Think hard about what you value and how you might want to be involved in advancing that cause. Then get engaged — one step at a time. It might take time and some strategic thinking, but we have lots of both.
Lustre.net is an online forum founded by Erica Baird and Karen Wagner, two New York City retired attorneys. Together, Baird and Wagner are on a mission to redefine retirement for modern career women by confronting outdated concepts, defying stereotypes and raising our collective voices to ensure that retirement for all of us is shaped by women, for women. Baird and Wagner want women to “tap into our experiences and passions, forge new identities and find a new purpose — and pass on what we know to the next generation.”