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The end of retirement

With economic devastation everywhere, says Michael Schrage in Harvard Business Review, you'll have to keep working longer than you thought. Deal with it

Get ready for "the end of retirement as we know it," says Michael Schrage in the Harvard Business Review. Unless you're already wealthy — or a dedicated saver still under 30 — "you will not be retiring at 65. Period." Thanks to structural deficits everywhere in the industrialized world, even members of protected public unions "with cosseted pension funds" are on shaky ground. "Just ask the Greeks, the Californians, or the Japanese." Unless the global economy comes roaring back, everybody, even the most talented professionals, can expect to work five years longer than they had hoped. It's "an emerging unpleasant reality that will (re)shape the quality of life and standard of living for billions. Start dealing with it. Now." Here, an excerpt:

"Everyone reading this should take 15 hard minutes to ruthlessly reassess the reality of the 'new' final years of their future career. The finish line has become elusive; the goal posts have been pushed back. Based on your current skill set and competences, what do you think your workday will look like when you're 70?...

"Do you honestly believe that, when you have to work five more years than anticipated, you can get away with not being more facile, adept, and productive with emerging technologies? The inevitable aging of the (for now) wealthier Western economies guarantees a surge of innovative device interfaces more compatible with slower fingers and tired eyes. You will, of course, be taking web-enabled professional/technical development courses at 58 or 62 or you will be fired for cause....

"When you know that being on the job 60 more months is inevitable, you have to have the courage and character to ask: How can I make them the most pleasantly and professionally productive of my life?"

Read the full article in the Harvard Business Review.

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