The "golden years" and "bucket list" bring to mind that old Frank Sinatra refrain, "Love and marriage ... go together like a horse and carriage." If you're over 65, hopefully, you still remember that song.
If you're younger, you're all, "Who's Frank Sinatra?" -- and you're free of having the song rattling around in your head all day after reading this.
Meanwhile, the bucket list refers to all the things that today's baby boomers plan to experience before they "kick the bucket." It stands to reason that one of the most self-actualized and driven generations wouldn't just "fade away" into retirement and then death like so many Douglas MacArthurs.
Our generation (I'm 68, just so you know) is the group of people that was reared by Dr. Spock and taught to be independent. Moreover, "When you stop getting better, you stop being good" has been one of the mantras of our time. We struggle with good parenting, professional success, fitness and all the other obsessions that have marked our generation.
By comparison, our parents put a premium on job security and avoiding another depression or world war.
So here we are with our bucket list. But wait a minute. There's an alternate universe where accomplishing goals is not that important. New York Times blogger Roz Warren puts a premium on "(just) hanging on to what I've got."
A middle ground awaits the bulk of baby boomers who are retiring from long-term careers and who are reinventing themselves. Statistics indicate that they are not delaying retirement, or if they are retiring, they are starting new careers. The 55-year-old and up demographic is the only one currently growing as a share of the workforce.
As Patricia Marx points out in The New Yorker magazine, the need for help for these people has spawned an entirely new industry of "retirement coaching."
The International Coaching Federation estimates that there are 48,000 coaches in the world. Fees range from as low as $10 to as high as $90,000. I suppose that it never hurts to have a second set of eyes looking at your life and what you see as your scheme of things. After all, some of us can have hopelessly unrealistic expectations of what lies ahead when we call a halt to our professional lives and job income.
What I do know from talking to people who have retired is that the novelty of retirement can wear off very quickly. Most people miss the sense of accomplishment and social aspect of work, but they don't miss the commute or the other frustrations that are part of working in large institutions.
An obvious alternative that avoids the dark side of a previous job situation can be a retiree's own small business.
The latest AARP magazine's headlines an article by saying, "Looking to hatch the business of your dreams? An old idea is giving new life to ventures at 50-plus." The article points out that there are a variety of business incubators in major cities that are supported by a combination of the Small Business Administration and economic development organizations.
They generally provide support in the form of training, tools, space and sometimes even financing. An online course is being developed by AARP in combination with the SBA.
Another source of funding for a small business can be found in ROBS -- which stands for Rollovers as Business Startups. It's a technique described in this column months ago for accessing IRA money to start a business without having to pay taxes on the distribution.
In short, those approaching retirement age are not necessarily peering into some abyss. A perfect world might be some combination of a bucket list and part-time job or small business. For those people who feel that they should call a retirement coach for some additional insight, I think we would agree that they have a delightful problem to solve.