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Freelance After 50 Newsletter

F50 Issue #18: Embrace the Power of Peak 65!

Published about 1 month ago • 5 min read

F50 Issue #18: March 19, 2024


Harnessing the Power of Peak 65: Five Ways to Combat Ageism

Move over Freedom 55 — it’s time to make way for Peak 65!

Many of you may remember the phrase “Freedom 55.” It was an advertising slogan for the London Life Insurance company in the 1980s, and it popularized the notion of retiring at the age of 55.

In one of its TV commercials, a young man travels through time and jogs beside an older version of himself on a tropical beach. As the two start chatting, the younger man is surprised to discover that he’s already fully retired at 55.

But is that really where he’d find himself if he traveled from the ‘80s to now?

According to a recent AARP article, an era called “Peak 65” is beginning. Cyrus Bamji of the Alliance for Lifetime Income explains that 2024 is “when we’ll see the largest surge of Americans turning 65 in our history.”

And, according to the article, their lives may look very different from a Freedom 55 commercial:

“Many of these late boomers exemplify how the meaning of turning 65 has changed from what it was in previous generations, or even just 20 years ago. At an age when their parents or grandparents might have been handed a gold watch and ushered out the door by employers, the 65-year-olds of 2024 often are still working, and some have no plans to quit.”

Michael Clinton shares some even more surprising stats in his article, “The Seismic Shift That’s About to Change the American Workplace.” According to a Pew Research study, the fastest-growing group in the workforce is workers ages 75 and up.

Clinton explains,

“With today’s lifespan approaching 80 in the U.S. and over 80 in many other developed nations, a new reality is setting in. People want to work longer, can work longer, and in many instances will need to work longer.”

At Freelance University, we like to describe Freedom 55 in a new and exciting way. For people over 50 who decide to become freelancers, we talk about three boats and ask which one they see themselves in:

The Cruise Ship

  • You’ve retired (or are approaching retirement) from your full-time job and are ready to enjoy travel, recreation, and the freedom of this new season. By choosing a meaningful freelance career, you can fund your lifestyle while living with passion and purpose.

The Lifeboat

  • Whether you’re looking to pivot your career, explore new horizons, or unexpected circumstances led to a change in your career path, freelancing offers a welcome option to continue working and supporting yourself.

The Fishing Boat

  • Whether you’re seeking a new direction, exploring your passions, or charting a course for growth, cast your net wide and set sail toward a brighter professional future.

In a recent Longevity Gains newsletter issue titled “Peak 65: The Shift to an Older Society Begins,” Bryan Clark shares these encouraging words:

“This big demographic shift to an older society is a blessing in disguise. People are living longer, healthier lives, which means more time to engage in meaningful activities. For many people, that will mean doing work that fulfills a sense of purpose in addition to providing a paycheck.”

But to make the most of this emerging trend, you need to be sure you aren’t holding yourself back. So, let’s explore how you can conquer outdated attitudes and stay open to trying new things, including a second-act career.

Five Ways to Harness the Power of Peak 65

1. Examine your preconceptions.

First of all, how do you view yourself? Maybe you’d like to work longer, but you’ve been in a job where older employees were expected to retire at a certain age. Maybe the Freedom 55 commercial used to be your goal, but you find yourself in a different boat than you expected.

Examine your preconceptions, and make sure you aren’t subconsciously clinging to ageist attitudes. Think about Tom Cruise continuing to do his own stunts past the age of 60, and Diana Nyad swimming from Cuba to Florida at age 60. They reject ageism, and so can you!

2. Understand your value.

As you conquer ageism, think about the value you bring to the workforce, especially if you embark on a freelance career. You have experience and wisdom from both work and life. You have resilience and courage from overcoming challenges. You have insights and perspective from navigating a changing world.

You are well equipped to try new things and embark on a second-act career!

3. Develop healthy habits.

To stay in top form during Peak 65, think about the kinds of habits you can develop to maintain your physical and mental health. For example, in the AARP article, Susan Albers-Bowling, a psychologist with the Cleveland Clinic, explains how older adults can preserve their cognitive abilities:\

“‘There is now a greater emphasis on brain health, cognitive training and memory enhancement techniques,’ she says. Today’s 65-year-olds ‘may have more opportunities to engage in brain-stimulating activities such as puzzles, games and lifelong-learning programs, which can help maintain cognitive function and delay cognitive decline.’”

4. Connect with others.

When you were younger, did you have an older relative or friend you enjoyed spending time with? Maybe it was a grandparent or a neighbor down the street.

Now think about your work life. Is there an older colleague or employer you’ve looked up to for advice or support? Maybe you’ve simply enjoyed working with them.

If you’re exploring the idea of freelancing (or have already started a freelance business), connect with people of all ages, both online and in person. Notice how you can learn from each other and support each other as you try new things and explore new paths.

5. Communicate your value.

Now it’s time to tell the world how valuable you are! Whether you’re still enjoying your first career or embarking on a second-act career, embrace the skills and qualities you bring to your profession.

For instance, in Michael Clinton’s article, Kevin Delaney explains the value of older employees working with Artificial Intelligence (AI):

“In reality, older workers might be better equipped for working with AI, as the ability to delegate work and review what comes back are some of the most critical skills for applying AI tools effectively.”

So, move over Freedom 55! Peak 65 offers a freedom that’s just getting started — the freedom to pursue many more meaningful years of fulfilling work!

Handy Tools

It lets you add new habits and track your progress, guiding you along the way with “bite-sized lessons and insightful strategies to help you make positive changes one step at a time.”

Atoms is free and only available for iOS, but Android availability is coming soon. You can upgrade your subscription at any time to a paid Pro plan with additional features.

Insider Resources

For a deeper dive into Atomic Habits, check out James Clear's book Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones.

As the website says, this book will teach you 10 things, and much more:

  1. “Build a system for getting 1% better every day.”
  2. “Break your bad habits and stick to good ones.”
  3. “Avoid the common mistakes most people make when changing habits.”
  4. “Overcome a lack of motivation and willpower.”
  5. “Develop a stronger identity and believe in yourself.”
  6. “Make time for new habits (even when life gets crazy).”
  7. “Design your environment to make success easier.”
  8. “Make tiny, easy changes that deliver big results.”
  9. “Get back on track when you get off course.”
  10. “And most importantly, how to put these ideas into practice in real life.”

Here’s to harnessing the power of Peak 65 and embracing your best self at any age!

Until next time,

Co-founders of Freelance University

431B 41st Avenue NE - Unit 94, Calgary, AB T2E 2N4
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Freelance After 50 Newsletter

Craig & Kelly Cannings, Co-founders of Freelance University

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