The term, Freedom 55™, was introduced by the London Life Insurance Company in the 1980’s. It more or less suggests that we will exit our full-time careers at the age of 55 and enjoy an exotic lifestyle or maybe a second, part-time career and, either way, live happily ever after.
A client recently joked that “Freedom 55” was the age of his last-born child—when he finally moved out of the house!
While there are many opposing views about what early retirement really means and when it should occur, I predict that the concept of retirement will become a defunct lifestyle option for the baby-boomer generation. I have consulted with hundreds of dentists over the past 30 years about what they plan to do with their lives. The most interesting and emerging trend is that retirement is not relevant to many baby-boomer dentists. And I believe there are a number of reasons for this.
Firstly, and most importantly, baby boomers are a generation of lifestyle-driven people with some rather expensive lifestyle habits. Retirement is a word that is usually equated with the immediate cessation of paid work. No longer. It’s an obsolete concept, and today most professionals recognize that they’ll continue to work long after the age of 55—willingly. You may choose to exit full-time work, but there’s always work part-time, sometimes for life, without actually “retiring.
Witness the emerging trend towards part-time dentistry for life, which I have observed now for several years. More and
more dentists think that complete and full retirement is a thing of the past. And, on the flip side, full-time work is also a fading concept, as more and more dentists seek a part-time career.
Over the next 10 years I predict an increase in the number of dentists working part-time, with fewer dedicating a full-time effort to a dental practice. That may have been the norm in the past. But who wants to work long hours and endless days when a better work/life balance is possible?
The term retirement will fade away and baby boomers, as a generation, will simply continue working—just less.
Let’s reconsider Freedom 55™ for a moment. What would you do if you actually quit dentistry, immediately, and let your dental licence lapse? Do you have a plan? What hobbies will you indulge in from the age of 55 for the rest of your life? Most dentists can’t answer these questions, and so they return to work for lack of anything else to motivate them.
I propose a shift in thinking to part-time-for-life and freedom-from-ownership. Enjoy both a modified lifestyle and income, and work as long as you can! After all, you love what you do, right?
I believe that I’ll live to 100—thanks to the advances of medicine—and that my career has another 60 years to go. I turned 50 in 2013.
I will never retire. What an absurd and out-dated concept that is!
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