2. Be a futurist and a lifelong learner.
As we peer into our do-it-yourself crystal balls, into a future that is uncertain and complex, we can identify some clearly valuable traits and recognize the benefits of being flexible, adaptable, accepting of new technology, and good at learning new skills. The traits that will help us all thrive, in both the workplace and within the family, are acceptance of change, the ability to solve problems independently…and flexibility. Each of us can take some steps to improve our own “mental youthfulness”, at any age. If acronyms help you to remember principles (and make you smile), then you may want to put some FLOAT in your toolkit and become a Flexible, Lifelong-learner–Open, Adaptable and Technology-savvy–FLOAT.
3. Wake up your sleeping entrepreneur.
Let’s return to my imaginary red-letter sign, “NO ONE WILL GIVE YOU A JOB” and also the offsetting statement, “Boomers have resilience, resourcefulness–and options.” A 2009 Kauffman Foundation study, “The Coming Entrepreneurship Boom,” show that the most active segment of our population, entrepreneurially speaking, is the Baby Boomer segment. Boomers are becoming business owners at a faster pace than any other business segment. From 2007 to 2008 new businesses launched by 55- to 64-year-olds grew 16%, faster than any other population segment, according to the Kauffman Foundation. Boomers in that age group started approximately 10,000 new businesses a month.
In contrast to the Boomer entrepreneurs, Boomer job-seekers battle a gloomy environment. As 2010 draws to a close there are roughly 15 million unemployed Americans continuing their job search. The percent of job seekers designated as long-term unemployed, those unemployed 27 or more weeks, has never been higher. According to the “New Unemployables” study by Boston Colleges Sloan Center on Aging & Work and the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, older job seekers are less likely to find new employment and are feeling financial pressure:
40% rated their financial situation as poor, and 61% said they have adjusted their plans for retirement.
41% of older workers (employed and unemployed) indicated they have no health care benefits.
30% of older workers indicated that they had more in credit card debt than retirement savings.
Fully two thirds (67%) reported using money from savings to make ends meet.
84% of older workers who were unemployed in August 2009 were still unemployed in March 2010
67% of older workers reported looking for work longer than a year.