You need to get a good job. Our parents impressed it upon us. That’s why many of us older people worked hard for our exams, did our training and spent our lives working for big companies.
The company job worked for a long time. We enjoyed the corporate benefits of a regular pay packet, health insurance, and a retirement fund.
But the world is changing. How secure is your job now? If you’re still working, do you worry about takeovers and reorganizations? Could redundancy be looming over you? Or have you already been pushed into ‘early retirement’?
Take a look at the statistics – they clearly show that most over 50 are going to face redundancy sooner or later. And then getting another job will be really difficult because of age discrimination. How will you cope?
And your retirement fund: did a lot of it get swallowed up by the last recession?
It’s not fair, is it? You did everything by the book and now the world has changed.
When the world changes, it’s time for you to change
The boomer generation initiated some of the big changes in the world. Now, boomers must adapt to the continuing demands of a world where change has become ever faster.
The rise of the gig economy constitutes one of the big changes in working practices. You may have read about it.
The papers all say how it’s insecure and underpaid. You don’t know where your next pay packet will be coming from. You don’t get health insurance or a retirement fund. You never know who you’ll be working for or even where and when. And there’s loads of administration to be done.
Most of us know that the gig economy can be tough for workers. But is it as tough as being unemployed in the rest of the economy?
Boomers form about 31% of the gig economy workforce in the US and of those about a third have already retired. If the gig economy is so awful, why are boomers turning to it in their thousands?
Since so many boomers have changed to working in the gig economy, there must be something good in it. What do all those boomers gain from the gig economy?
What could the gig economy do for a boomer like you?
Here are 9 ways in which working in the gig economy could help you to look forward to a better future as you age.
1. How the gig economy makes you feel more secure
Take that secure corporate environment: like fish stocks, it’s rapidly disappearing.
It feels catastrophic if you’re made redundant in your 50s or early 60s before you’re entitled to draw your pension or social security. You feel that you’ll never work again and are condemned to a life of poverty.
The 2008 crisis pushed more and more people into a gig working to earn something. Now, gaining the equivalent of a full-time income through a series of small ‘gigs’ has become an accepted way of working.
Eva is a good example. She retired but didn’t have much of a pension. She worried about the cost of caring for her sick dog. She took up dog walking and moved on to having dogs to stay whilst their owners went away. Her gigs ramped up so that now she has a waiting list and no longer worries about the vet’s bills for her beloved dog.
You feel better knowing that you can always earn enough to cover the essentials.
2. Using the gig economy as a transition into a second career
You can set yourself up in the gig economy, whether you’re working still, unemployed or already retired.
If you plan strategically, you can establish the basis for a second career whilst you’re still working in your first career. You could retire with a job or take on a new challenging second career.
Starting the process well in advance is best. But it’s never too late to start. If you gain experience on a gig basis, you’ll have a track record. Your gigs get you known and establish your reputation.
(And think of the kudos that earns you with your friends!)
Click for Marc’s views on why you really need to have a plan B as you age.
3. Downsizing your work: flexible working part-time
Another advantage: many of us seniors and retirees don’t actually want to work every hour. You might just want to work part-time.
You want to be able to take a holiday when you see a great offer. Or you want to be able to stay home if your partner falls sick. Dependency on complying with an employer’s rules and regulations can be frustrating and irksome.
The gig economy can offer all this. You may not earn as much. But when you’re an independent contractor, a gig worker and depending on the market you work in, you have the chance to sort out exactly how much work you want to do.
4. Becoming a digital nomad and working remotely
The gig economy and the possibility of remote working has brought about the rise of the digital nomad, who can work from anywhere in the world. Such a flexible lifestyle can be wonderful and suits some people down to the ground.
Working remotely provides a great solution to other retirement dreams too. Travel is one of the top desires on people’s retirement bucket lists.
Take Susan for example. She’s a freelance writer and she’s just decided to move from Austin, Texas to Portugal. She’s taken her career with her. The gig economy gifts you the ability to fulfill your retirement dreams of travel AND have a second career.
Discover what Susan says on moving countries and working remotely here.
5. Gigs can open doors
Sometimes, gig work turns from ‘temp into hire’. That is, the small jobs you take on as a temp, through gigs, turn into a full-time position with an employer. The gig acts as a kind of ‘trial period’ to see if you and the employer suit each other. Both sides have the possibility to suss out the other.
6. Finding a sense of purpose in retirement
For those interested in work to re-acquire a sense of purpose, you can use the gig economy to try out different things until you find a niche which suits you.
Maria had always worked in restaurant and hotel chains but grew more and more dissatisfied being just a cog. Finally, she found two part-time jobs in care work. She cooks lunch and cares for an elderly lady and then moves on to supervise supper for 20 in a retirement home. She loves the contact and feels far more useful and appreciated.
How about moving into fields that you’d never imagined working in before? Start with your previous experience and extend it. For example, you could use your corporate experience to help millennials with start-ups. Don’t know about startups? The gig economy can help you obtain relevant experience. It’s great to feel that you’re helping out other people.
7. Socialising and friends help you live longer
For those who are lonely, you can look for a job that involves you with lots of people. Lots of rideshare drivers cite this aspect as one of the best aspects of working.
Maybe you’d prefer to work in a coffee shop, where it’s part of the job to chat to your customers.
The research is clear: having friends and having a purpose both help you to live longer.
8. Setting yourself up in the gig economy won’t break the bank
If you want to become an entrepreneur, you can set up in the gig economy without spending loads of capital. You can easily start a freelance business offering services.
Or, if you have creative hobbies, you can turn your output into sales. For example,
- if you’re a great photographer, you can put your photos up on specialist websites.
- Are you a dressmaker? How about offering to make custom made evening dresses or bridal gowns?
Setting up is quick and easy. Most people already have smartphones and an internet connection and often, that’s all you need.
You need a good computer and internet connection if you’re doing something more digitally sophisticated but even then, many people have them anyway.
9. Transition into a fun-filled, full retirement
Some people find the transition to retirement challenging. They lose their sense of identity and feel that their lives lack purpose. They may feel lonely and sink into depression.
Continuing to work can make a huge difference. It provides structure and a purpose. You benefit from regular contact with colleagues and the chance to make friends.
Moving into a new work role assists you in adapting to your new retired lifestyle. Doing something new and different is fun. Fun helps you live longer.
You can look to the gig economy to fill that work shaped hole in your life.
Transform your older years through the gig economy
Imagine ending up with flexible, part-time work or working remotely from home.
You didn’t find it easy to adjust to begin. But life was going to change anyway. This way, you chose the adjustments.
Now, you’ve stopped worrying so much about the future. Changing spurred you into keeping active. Your life transformed as you transitioned into a second career.
Whether pivoting your career before you retire or returning to work after you’ve officially retired, working in the gig economy can make all the difference to the amount of money and fun you have as you age.
Why not investigate how the gig economy could help you enjoy a more prosperous, productive time as you age?
Check out this link for more resources and information about the gig economy from Rosemary.
Rosemary Bointon helps older people take action NOW to ensure they have fun, stay active and make the most of their longer life. Find her on her blog at https://longlifefunlife.com, on Twitter at @Agingchallenges and FB at Long Life Fun Life