Planning for Life After 50 in a Scary Stock Market?

George Schofield Has a Manifesto for the Baby Boomer Generation

Planning for Rapid Change, Longer Lives and Dizzying Choices

Feb 16, 2016, 09:15 ET from George Schofield

NEW YORK, Feb. 16, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Continuous dives in stock market performance, rising Medicare premiums, and uncertainties surrounding Social Security are scaring the 76 million Baby Boomers, ages 46-64 and older, who are counting on their investments to fund their future.  "It's not just that so many 'givens' we've always held as fact have changed, it's the speed of change that has many of us on edge," says author and speaker George Schofield, Ph.D. (Sign up for Schofield blog at:

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Consider the fact that many of us are likely going to live well into our 80s or 90s. "We might have followed the rules, thinking we were doing the right thing, only to find that the rules aren't relevant any more." (See "The Fallacy of the Boomer" here.) "Adjusted for inflation, the stock market is worth only a little bit more than it was 20 years ago. Every time we think we're back on track, we're thrown yet another curveball," Schofield adds.

Schofield's work focuses on the years 50+, and how to cope with the new normal: a time in which we're living longer and healthier lives, and may finally decide to pursue new or long-delayed interests for our Third Act.  We will be facing major transitions in priorities, work, and lifestyle—some voluntary, many not.  All we're sure of is that we're in new territory. 

"This isn't the retirement we always pictured," Schofield says.  "In fact, we need a name for the emerging, transitional period that marks the end of a traditional full-time career and marks the beginning of an array of choices and combinations that are neither permanent nor one-size-fits-all."

Dr. Schofield helps many in this age group rediscover and redefine themselves, while dealing with a whole new set of pressures: a greater awareness of time, an appreciation of what a meaningful and purposeful life looks like, a recognition of the need to be flexible and realistic about plans, and the ability to manage paradoxes and irony. He notes that after 50, we "still have ambitions but nothing (or little) left to prove, so this dramatically changes the reasons we make selections and decisions."

Schofield notes that we don't yet have the language to adequately reflect all of these changes accurately and that "retirement" simply doesn't cover it. "We are actually a diverse bunch who would be indignant at being lumped together. We keep using the term Baby Boomers as if it meant something useful, when it only works for sales and marketing purposes. Other than that, it's a nearly meaningless demographic category, nothing more." He offers a manifesto to give those 50 and older something to hang onto while figuring it all out:

  • There is no blueprint for navigating rapid change; our futures are primarily up to each of us, more than ever before.
  • This generation is breaking all the rules and pioneering new ones.
  • A life after 50 built exclusively on goals yields little opportunity for contentment.
  • We could live another 50 years, and the second half of life cannot be a simple continuation of the first.
  • We are still seekers; staying open to what may be coming doubles the chance of success and surprise (the good kind).
  • We will make important and often difficult life choices which may be impermanent.
  • We still have lots of energy but not so much that we can squander it unthinkingly. We will invest energy more wisely than ever, in people, activities and self.
  • Long-term planning is only a direction, not a guarantee, and success requires skillful adaptability.
  • Our lives will be longer, with a greater need for engagement, creativity, and funding than any other generation.
  • Our previous experience is important but it will not predict, nor dictate, our futures.
  • We look to find satisfaction and opportunity each day. 
  • We commit to leaving a better place for those who will follow us into this very interesting phase of life.

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