“For all that has been, Thank you. For all that is to be, Yes!” – Dag Hammarskjöld

What exactly does age 65 herald? This issue of the Next in Life newsletter pokes at our perceptions of what to expect once we reach and surpass this landmark age. This is a longer issue than usual. Read that as my way of making up for the newsletter that did not go out in November. 

Working past age 65 – is it a thing?

Ever scratch your head after reading a piece in the newspaper? Me too! In October 2021, the Globe and Mail’s personal finance columnist Rob Carrick interviewed Fred Vettese about his latest book The Rule of 30: A Better Way to Save for Retirement. I follow both of these individuals – they are top in their respective fields. Still, I had some questions after reading the Globe and Mail piece and thought you’d find this snippet from my email exchange with Rob Carrick of interest.

Me: I was surprised to read Vettese suggest that “most people really haven’t got the choice of being able to work full-time past 65.” Why not? There has been no mandatory age of retirement in Canada since about 2009. Furthermore, the Charter protects against discrimination on the basis of age although ageism in the workplace is rampant. It may be true that most people don’t want to work full time past 65 yet I wonder if this is fuelled by our belief that retirement is a right. Is it?

RC: Working past 65: people are worn out physically, employers cannot fire you but they can change your work situation to influence you to retire. By no means a sure thing you can continue a job past 65 without changes.

Me: Noting that I work with people in their 60s and 70s who are looking for purpose and meaning in retirement which often includes working. Entrepreneurship is booming in the 50+ crowd. Not sure we can make a blanket statement about a cohort that starts at age 65 as physically worn out although that definitely applies to some.

RC: I do hear a lot about people who plan to consult or teach in retirement and there's no market. I would say that you have to plan out working past 65 at age 55-60. Doable, but not a done deal.

Thank you, Rob Carrick, for underlining the need to look ahead, to plan what it is you are retiring to rather than focussing on what you are retiring from.

If you have already retired, what sort of pressures did you feel to cross the threshold to retirement?

If you haven’t reached that threshold yet, what do you envision for yourself in retirement? Regardless of how ready you are to leave work behind, a lot of life is pinned to work – money, time, connections (close or casual), a job title/identity, a sense of purpose/obligation and, intellectual stimulation. What will you create that replaces what you’ll miss from work?

Age 65 — not old yet!

Extended middle age. That’s how Ralph Milton, author of Well-aged: Making the most of your platinum years, describes the period from age 65 to 80. I couldn't find a reference to support his characterization of this cohort; however, the quest took me down the rabbit hole of definitions of old. My favourite: Old age refers to ages nearing or surpassing the life expectancy of human beings.

In Canada, if you have reached age 65, life expectancy for women is another 21.6 years (86.7 years) and another 18.5 years for men (83.5 years). Although that is 2009 data, the most recent available for life expectancy by age, the overall trend is people living longer. At age 65 you are hardly “nearing or surpassing life expectancy!” In developed countries like Canada, most people in their 60s and early 70s are still fit, active, and able to care for themselves. At age 65 you are definitely not done yet!

As a speaker, Milton is compelling and funny and offered this advice to you, my readers (yes, I asked): “Be what you are right now, not trying to be what you once were.” And on the subject of having a sense of purpose he suggested, “find your vocation, something you do that’s important to you.” Vocation is usually associated with work however the definition is: a summons or strong inclination to a particular state or course of action. What’s yours?

2030 – The youngest boomers will be 65

And in 2030 those 65 or older will make up 23 per cent of the population. Political scientists and economists worry this cohort will demand and get more of the services they want while social gerontologists note that seniors are neglected by governments in favour of younger voters. And intergenerational tensions will get worse. “Older people … will be asked to work longer, to fill job shortages. They will both complement and compete with younger workers and consumers.” According to political scientist Patrik Marier, “the key is for younger workers to remember that a time will come when they need to be supported as well.” This from John Ibbitson and Darrell Bricker’s comprehensive overview of our aging world in their recent Globe and Mail article.

65 — Expected age of retirement

"I feel like a 1950's housewife — nothing on my plate except planning what will be on our plates for dinner!"; Ouch! That is how one client described the void that is now her life, two years into retirement. A retirement triggered by an injury, at the expected age of retirement.

There is this cultural picture of retirement – the choices! the freedom! — that stops us from planning life after career, from wanting to hear about the challenges presented next in life. "Something to do" may not bring a sense of purpose, meaning. Reaching the expected age of retirement doesn’t have to mean giving up working. You can read more about the downside of expected age of retirement here.
That client? She's re-instating the professional designation she held before retiring and focussing on improving her physical health. She's #notdoneyet!

Life lessons from a boat

Living the dream! That's the pat expression that was slapped onto my back when people heard I lived aboard a sailboat. Yet the four years preparing myself and the boat for adventures near and far sure didn’t feel like a dream. More like a "lifequake" described by Bruce Feiler, author of Life is in the Transitions, as "a forceful blast of change in one’s life that leads to a period of upheaval, transition and renewal."

This week that 37' sailboat MAZU went to a new owner. The lessons learned aboard MAZU will speak to ANYONE pulled towards a big hairy audacious goal.

The real questions to ask before retirement

Stay tuned! In February I will be recording a webinar with Glory Gray of Glory Gray Wealth Solutions and host of the Women’s Wealth Canada podcast. Money and life in retirement – together we’ll pose the real questions to ask before retirement.

Let’s connect!

Thanks for reading this newsletter. I welcome your comments, stories, and feedback. You can reach me at or by connecting on LinkedIn. I post there regularly raising awareness about the world needing people in the second half of life to do whatever they do best. By contrast, this newsletter will plop into your inbox once every two months.
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