A few years ago, AARP reported that half of workers age 60 and older say that they plan to keep working until at least age 70 and 20 percent of them say they don't think they will ever retire. Last year, another study found that 3 in every 10 entrepreneurs are over the age of 50. With all these people claiming they plan to work longer, why does it feel like everyone still assumes you will retire at 65 (or sooner)?
The age you retire typically depends on your desires, financial situation, health, and employability. Some people don't have a choice – they can't work whether they want to or not; others would like to stop but can't afford it. For those who do have options and want to work, they may still face bias from others which can make it harder to be successful. Work is often harder to come by for older adults whether you work for yourself or others. What can you do about this?
The first step is understanding what you want for your future. We did a series of posts last year to help you determine whether you are ready for retirement. Some people are never ready to retire but others need to consider when and how to retire and what that means for their business and personal life. Will you continue to work full or part-time? If you are a business owner, what's your succession plan in case you can no longer work? If you are not clear on your plans, your customers or clients won't be clear either.
Once you have a plan, communicate it as needed. Not everyone needs to know your life plan, but you may want to give some information to those who may be affected by your decisions. If you will be continuing to work, make sure you let people know that, keep up your skills, and remain engaged with your co-workers, clients, industry contacts and others in your field. It's not a cure for bias you may face, but it helps.
As the population ages and health improves, people will work longer. In the not so distant future, few people may question you if you decide to continue working. In the meantime, you must take affirmative actions to counteract people's assumptions.