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Later this week I will celebrate my 60th birthday and I truly believe that the best is yet to come. The older I get, the happier I become, so turning the Big 6-0 is a welcome milestone. I will take entering a new decade in my stride and will forge new and different boundaries.

While I’m already comfortable and content with my lot in life, I’m told that my “golden years” era, which begins this Friday, will bring new joys. This mature life stage, according to the experts, allows people to do the things that they have always dreamed of.

Apparently, now is the time for people of my vintage to develop a Bucket List. Unsurprisingly, what tops most lists is overseas travel and chasing once-in-a-lifetime adventures like exploring the Galapagos Islands, witnessing the Northern Lights, driving Route 66 or gambling in Las Vegas.

I’m very fortunate to have already visited some of the globe’s most exciting destinations. So, my focus (when I eventually retire from full-time work) will be on other things like family and giving back. I believe that reaching 60 is not a finish line but an opportunity for new beginnings.

I find it hard to envisage that I will ever wind down. For me, life has always been about experiences not things. When I ultimately have more time on my hands, I intend to fill that void with an “encore career” - ie, undertaking paid or volunteer work that has social impact and which fits around my life and not vice versa.

A desire to contribute to the greater good has seen many baby boomers adopt encore careers. Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, has embraced philanthropic activities while former US Vice President, Al Gore, has become an environmental activist.

Few baby boomers want to retire in the traditional sense, ie, stop everything and just sit at home waiting for death. Rather, they want to reinvent themselves by launching a second “career”. In my case, I hope to continue at a more leisurely pace as a mentor, coach or director.

Meantime, my wife and I are putting together a Bucket List for when I no longer need to show up every day at the office. Neither Bev nor I have designs on being aging hipsters zooming around in an open-top red sports car. Rather, our desires are far more pragmatic and include additional time with our seven grandchildren.

Beyond that, my one unfulfilled ambition is to finish writing a book that I started prior to joining Gateway. I am halfway through and it has really bugged me for the past decade that I have not been able to finish it - because they work me too hard here at Gateway!

Being a baby boomer makes me part of one of the largest and most influential age groups in Australia. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are almost 5.6 million boomers in Australia (those born between 1946 and 1966) with the overwhelming majority now aged in their 50s and 60s.

The baby boomer generation has dominated life around the world for over a half-century and their influence is set to continue. Boomers will impact the workforce as they retire, the housing market as they downsize, the health care system as they age and the welfare system as they run out of money.

The age pension is Australia’s single biggest welfare payment. It cost $44 billion in 2015-16 and will grow to $50 billion by 2018-19 or about 10% of total federal budget spending. Clearly, the ripple effect of the aging of the rock ‘n’ roll generation will also be felt economically.

Regular readers of this blog will know my often-repeated concern that policymakers have yet to grasp the magnitude of the grey demographic tsunami that is sweeping the planet. It is a megatrend that will transform economies and societies in both developed and developing nations.

The world is adding wrinkles and societies will need to adjust accordingly. As for me, I promise that I won’t have a Holy Sh*t moment this Friday on becoming a sexagenarian. Sooner or later, father time catches up with everyone. I’m confident that I’ll cope with another birthday ending in zero.

 

Regards
Paul J. Thomas, CEO

Comments

avatar Alexandra Vardalos
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Have a wonderful birthday with your lovely family!
Big hugs
Alexandra, Nick, Dominique and Tiahn xxx
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avatar Peter Byrne
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Congratulations Paul. This takes me back to when I was approaching 60 and decided to enjoy life with Pat. It has been very fulfilling and there has only been a very few times when I was wondering what to do next. The 80's have slowed me up a bit but there is so much more to do and see.I'm glad that I left Gateway in such capable hands.
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CEO Paul Thomas