Redefining Retirement through Technology

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Redefining Retirement through Technology

Many people still describe the ideal world as one where you don’t work at a job any more, or don’t work at all.


You know, the portrait of the person who ‘retires’ and doesn’t work any longer to support a certain lifestyle. In the 70s and 80s this world was one where you had a place in Arizona or Florida and played shuffle board or golf every day. Jeez! That just doesn’t sound all that exciting to me.


Aside from the fact that many of us CAN’T quit working at 62 or 65, due to financial reasons, there is an increasing number of people in our age group that simply don’t want to check out completely at all - ever.


The ‘boomers’ will be perhaps the first generation that can reasonably expect to be productive in any number of ways they choose well into their 80s, even 90s. Within that large boomer group is a growing subgroup that eats healthier, exercises more regularly and gets regular medical check-ups to catch any health issues earlier. The net result, they not only are mentally and physically healthier, they look it! The idea of just ‘going away’ after a certain number of years work is really not an option that many of us find all that appealing.


While I would certainly love to have more options as to how or where I live my life going forward, doing nothing for the rest of my life is not very high on my list. Greater independence is, however. Fortunately, we can have a bit of our cake and eat it too! The nature of our economy is largely service and the ever growing influence of technology gives us the option to continue contributing in a variety of ways. It is fantastic! Here are a couple of things to chew on:

  • Networking. There are any number of websites that facilitate the connection of people for largely professional purposes. Linkedin appears to be getting the most traction in this, but there are a host of sites essentially providing the same services: Spoke, ZoomInfo, Yorz, Ryze and Xing for general professional networking. Networking sites are only as good as the one working them. I’m investing more time and effort in Facebook, which is more of a general social networking site. While the younger set made up the bulk of early users, one of the fastest growing demographic groups on Facebook now is the 40 and over crowd. There’s a lot more ‘noise’ on Facebook but a whole lot more people.
  • Freelancing. Guru, Elance, ProjectLance, Freelance and Odesk are just a few sites offering a broad list of opportunities where you can quickly and easily compete for work from your recliner. Of course, so can everyone else. Some other sites include Aquent, for marketing professionals, Helium, for writers, and Rentacoder or PHP-Freelancers, for the tech savvy individuals. Relevant professional associations and journals also offer freelancing solutions and networking opportunities.
  • Learning. Being productive isn’t just about making money. Continuing to learn new things is essential for keeping relevant and fresh, and intellectually engaged. I’ve learned basics of ballroom dancing from YouTube, for example. Acquaintances have learned basics of guitar from YouTube, Chinese from MIT’s self-learning courses and advanced Excel spreadsheet skills online. And often you can pick things up for free. Check out the Internet Public Library or the Museum of Online Museums. You’ll have to Google them to get their web addresses.

Friedman, in his book The World is Flat, states that today’s Internet has “created a global platform that allowed more people to plug and play, collaborate and compete, share knowledge and share work, than anything we have ever seen in the history of the world.” It is mindboggling as to the number of options out there. It gives us the potential to conceive of a different kind of ‘retirement’, one where we remain engaged while taking control of a bit more of our lives in the process.

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