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Thursday, April 02, 2009

The pluses (and negatives) of being 50-plus

Back in February I was sent a copy of The Rainbow Years: The Pluses of Being 50+, a book by Barrie Hopson and Mike Scally.

We are now into April and the book remains unread. Pressure of work and all of that stuff...

Last weekend I had an old friend staying who started to read the book and kept reading. If it had this effect on Robert then it must be doing a lot of things right since he is the sort of guy who gives short shrift to waffle and psychobabble.

As he departed I thrust the book in his hand and asked him to write a short review - this is what he said.

Written largely in the format of a workbook, it follows a path of individual life review and assessment - a personal SWOT analysis, supported with helpful articles and anecdotes to encourage clear and informed future life decision making for those traditionally approaching retirement.

However, as one actually in the target age group, there is much to be commended in this extension to the Rainbow theme. Firstly there is the purely practical discipline of the section by section approach. After all, few of us really plan beyond the immediate arrival of an event, and many stop full time work honestly admitting that they really don’t know what they are going to do.

Preparation provided by employers in the past is increasingly rare, and with job continuity so much less secure than it was, opportunity for detailed planning is limited and unguided. Consequently whilst I can see the described process forming a framework for seminars and group approaches, the Rainbow workbook is more likely to come into its own as a personal tool for those aware that they should be planning for change, but lacking support as to structure.

The authors however, go beyond the pure retirement consideration. It references directly the massive change in prospective longevity combined with improved health. It focuses the mind on the range of alternatives other than moving from work to retirement in one fell swoop. Discussion identifies the wealth potential in over 50`s, yet is sufficiently up to date to note the life inconsistencies between capital wealth and pension income over a possible non working period of 40 or 50 years.

The authors suggest a future “norm” of a “mixed activity” which could contain traditional or charitable work, pure recreation, physical and mental stimuli, continued over many years.

The essential difference which they highlight in this “third age” is the matter of choice. Never before has a generation been so placed as to be able to decide their later life balance, or to have so long to regret a lack of planning. No longer driven by necessity to absolute ambition and earnings to the detriment of other things, but aware that only so much golf or so many holidays are possible before frustration kicks in, the new over 50`s may have the same opportunity to shape their future as they had at 20, largely without the same fear and pressure, but potentially with the same anticipation and satisfaction.


To be recommended to anyone over 50 needing to reshape their future, to any prospective retiree stumbling myopically into the future, and even to those already retired, but honest enough to admit that they are not enjoying life as they might have hoped!

Clearly the book worked for Robert. If you are interested in the 50-plus market then the book provides you with insights into the options, decisions and the range of emotions swelling around in the heads of your target customers. Sounds like a good buy to me. Dick Stroud

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