Reading List: Re-Imagining Retirement
Life expectancy has increased dramatically in recent decades, climbing to 77.9 years old. Retirement has changed dramatically, too. For an increasing number of Americans, the second half of life now means shifting gears -- to a new career or new passion -- rather than slowing down.
Here are books that will help you explore possibilities in the next stage of life:
1. The Big Shift by Marc Freedman
Freedman offers a road map for baby boomers as they venture into what he and others have dubbed the "Third Age," a new stage of life after middle age, but before old age when many people take on second careers, start businesses or follow long-delayed dreams to serve their communities. "It's a time," he writes, "when many have insight about what matters, a special impetus to act on this wisdom, and the ability to do so. In this respect, it's a potential sweet spot, a confluence rather than a reinvention." Freedman, CEO of the nonprofit Civic Ventures, also is the author of Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life.
2. What Color is Your Parachute? for Retirement by John Nelson and Richard Bolles
Bolles and Nelson offer a comprehensive sequel to What Color is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers. Their guide to help your retirement planning includes financial information, resources and step-by-step planning, along with advice on friendship, health care and even suggestions on the best cities to retire to.
3. Shock of Gray by Ted Fishman
The New York Times bestselling author of China Inc. wrote Shock of Gray to consider retirement through a wider, more global lens. Retirement is not the same in the 21st century, and Fishman seeks to understand why and what the ramifications will be. He relates longer life expectancy to globalization and immigration patterns in an attempt to predict international trends and the implications of those trends, including shifting care-giving roles and midlife career changes.
4. What's Next: Follow Your Passion and Find Your Dream Job by Kerry Hannon
What's Next is a handy guide for brainstorming your next move. Hannon interviews Americans who successfully pursued their passions after retirement, including a policeman who became a music agent in Nashville and a mortgage banker who went back to school. After each interview, the author offers practical advice on how you can find "what's next" for you.
5. Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom by Mary Catherine Bateson
What Freedman calls the "Third Age," Bateson refers to as "Adulthood II," or a second round of development between 55 and 70. Bateson says that with age comes wisdom, power and possibilities. Adulthood I is the busy and productive time, which includes child-rearing years and the building of careers. When you enter Adulthood II, you "reflect that you have done much of what you hoped to in life but it is not too late to do something more or different," she says.
6. The Third Chapter: Passion, Risk and Adventure in the 25 Years After 50 by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot
Both Freedman and Bateson recommend The Third Chapter, a book by a sociologist who examines the years between 50 and 75 from a psychological perspective. Using interviews with 40 affluent and educated people, she examines how each person finds new purpose and meaning in middle age through new creative outlets, careers and giving.
7. The Hard Times Guide to Retirement Security by Mark Miller
A veteran financial writer who pens the weekly "Retire Smart" column, Miller offers practical advice for achieving a satisfying, secure retirement -- even in tough times. "These aren't get-rich-quick investment gimmicks or schemes to make millions working part time from your kitchen table," he says. "Rather, the best ideas focus on basic blocking and tackling -- getting the most from the financial tools already at hand, and making smart decisions about work and lifestyle."
8. How to Retire Overseas: Everything You Need to Know to Live Well (For Less) Abroad by Kathleen Peddicord
Many Americans haven't saved enough money for a carefree retirement here in the United States. But Peddicord says those same people could retire comfortably on the average $1,200 monthly Social Security check if they ventured overseas. She offers a practical guide that details the most popular international retirement havens and dispenses advice on topics such as which countries offer the best health care and which are the most tax-friendly. At the back of the book, she includes an index offering the estimated cost of living in various countries, including rent, maintenance, transportation, food, insurance, internet, gas, electricity and property taxes.
9. What Should I Do With the Rest of My Life? True Stories of Finding Success, Passion, and New Meaning in the Second Half of Life by Bruce Frankel
Frankel, a former newspaper and magazine writer in New York City, profiles 13 people who reinvented themselves after age 60. "Putting aside the economy for a moment, people do not advance into their early 60s with an expectation of complete retirement and resignation of all ambition," he says in an interview with SecondAct. "Turning 60 is now seen as the time to repurpose our lives, to refire ourselves intellectually, socially and physically."