There is a significant divide between the way our parents’ generation viewed their retirement years and the way ours does. In part this is down to the difference in life expectancy and quality of health. But there is another important factor.

The differing ways both generations experienced life left each of them with very different attitudes and expectations.

Our Parents’ Generation

Our parents’ generation lived through World War 2 and may well have fought in it. Life during their three score years and ten was about survival. About having enough income to pay the rent or mortgage and put food on the table.

  • Many lived, worked and died in the town where they were born. For some it was even the same house. To travel far was rare. To travel often, even rarer.
  • Education was all about listening, obeying, writing and remembering.
  • Work was mostly graft and the long haul. Workers loyally hunkered down and were compliant. Often with the stability of one trade, and even one employer, for the whole of their working life.
  • For the majority their annual holiday was two weeks at best – in a caravan, a bed and breakfast or Butlins.

Surprisingly, considering how things are today, they also had a very high level of contentment and even gratitude for the way things were. Which was accompanied by few thoughts of change, pressing boundaries or exploring new horizons.

Our Own Generation

Then we came along, like a totally different tribe – the ‘baby boomer’ generation. The first to be raised with television in the home, a source of constant entertainment, fun, possibilities and a window on a different world.

  • Our education was about discovering, questioning, reasoning and enquiring.
  • The economy boomed and so did our opportunities. In a world of growing change and choice, there seemed to always be something new on the horizon that we could be part of.
  • Our generation were the rule breakers, the innovators and the protesters – be it The Beatles, Jasper Conran or Ban the Bomb. The sedate tea dance became the free-form disco. The three piece suit became smart casual.
  • We experienced a land of new opportunities. Which included something called ‘leisure’ – time for ourselves. And travel – to places our parents had never gone and for longer than they would ever believe possible.
  • We now have Google to open up a never-ending world of possibilities. ‘Silver surfers’ are the fastest growing age group taking to the internet and own a third of all the tablets.

It is these life experiences that have shaped our retirement expectations – for more change, more choice, more experiences, and more opportunities.

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The word retirement is not even in the Bible. What is taught in scripture is transition. There is nothing that says you work most of your life and then get to be selfish for the next 20 years"

Rick Warren, PurposeDrivenLife