You wake up one day and you are 60…what now?

Highway Sign - Retirement

Highway Sign – Retirement

I recently came across an article claiming that the years between 60 and 65 are supposed to be the best of your life. Apparently, 60 is the new 40, but from then on it’s all downhill in more than one way….

When I reached the half century in one piece and reasonably good shape (and I’m talking about the years and not cricket) it was already a serious accomplishment and not something to be taken lightly.

Making it to 60 without having half my body replaced with titanium parts was certainly another achievement and the result of a healthy and active lifestyle or more likely, good genes. Some of us show the wear and tear of the years in the hospitality industry – the long hours, the 7 day weeks and the years spent working in hardship locations, but many of us are still in good shape with all our faculties in order – a bit like a car that looks great but has the occasional bit of engine trouble…

It was then that I realized – OMG, I was past 60 and it was time to take stock and make a ‘Bucket list’ to decide what to do with my life and years left, as past 65 the only real decision to make would be which Full Service Retirement Village would be a good option, lol…

Age has become a very controversial issue in our industry in the 21st century. In most developed countries we have an aging and very healthy workforce, and in hospitality this is particularly true at a senior level as all the uncommitted and under-performing staff fall away and move to less challenging career choices leaving the skilled or determined. However, judging by the attitude of many employers anyone over 50 should perhaps consider euthanasia!

“Don’t sent me anyone over 45 or 50” are requests as common as the request for a Hotel School or University degree and it can be difficult to tell a candidate (due to employment laws) that while he is perfectly qualified, the client will not consider him due to his age. Add to this the complicated visa restrictions in some countries who will not issue work permits for people past a certain age and retirement may be the only option for an increasing number of senior staff.

How do we change this prevailing attitude? I’m not sure I have the answer as most societies are obsessed by youth and youth culture.

So maybe retirement is something we all should seriously consider, but how will we spent the time in retirement? There are only so many holes of golf and games of tennis one can play without the occasional signs of arthritis or a lapse of memory kicking in. The sudden shock of being without a secretary to prepare the morning coffee and put the paper on your desk; the lunch specially prepared by the chef; the happy hour with regulars and the many functions to attend and the familiar daily handshake with VIP’s in the lobby, be it be at midnight or 3 in the morning… One does grow into all those little ‘duties’ and many managers’ live and thrive on this…
Suddenly all that stops and there is a vacuum that needs to be filled. The option of work as a consultant or owner representative is a very trendy one at the moment, not to mention the occasional entrepreneurial attempt at starting something completely new so close to retirement. These options and opportunities are sadly few and far between.

Retirement planning is therefore vital even if it comes around a little sooner than one would expect. That said, has everyone has taken care of retirement finances? There are many hotel expats of the 70s, 80s and 90’s who did not have the luxury of pension plans provided by employers, and even today this is not universal in all companies and countries. Similarly, with medical/life insurance which has only more recently really had an impact on employment terms.

We all think we will live and work forever but realistically in your 30’s some serious thought about the unfathomable idea of retirement needs to be mandatory. Then, when you get past the 55 or even 60 mark and have to start thinking about retirement, you actually have some options and can make the best of your years between 60 and 65…

Get your bucket list ready and get your mind ready for the time after, as it comes to all of us and to many, much sooner than we think…

About the author

rsz_karl_faux_ccKarl Faux is a veteran Hotelier and Managing Partner with Elite Search – a leading hospitality recruitment firm.
For more information about Karl and Elite Search visit http://www.elitesearch.com.au and The Elite Hotelier http://www.elitehotelier.net

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