New to the market, and having already reached number 1 in the New Zealand best-selling booklist for non fiction, Avoid Retirement and Stay Alive is about conflict resolution on a much broader scale. It is about the conflicts attached to ageing. The authors lay down a provocative challenge to those of us of a certain age (dare I say that includes many CR and ADR practitioners?) and to the retirement industry in general.
Most people are used to being bombarded by financial advisers keen to sell them retirement saving plans. They are also accustomed to being the targets of age-related scare-mongering. Baby Boomers (generally considered to be those born between 1946-1964) are the most-researched generation ever and have pushed back the boundaries during every decade of their lives. Many are now entering their 50s and early 60s. Their conflicts are increasing – they are perceived as upcoming dependent ‘burdens’ on the State, yet those who want to stay in the labour market are often subject to enforced retirement because they have reached a significant birthday. They are encouraged to be self-sufficient, yet chided for occupying economic space needed by younger workers. Employers complain about a skills shortage but expect those with the requisite experience and knowledge – many of whom are still fit and able to carry on - to down tools and head for their porches. Despite a re-evaluation by some corporations regarding the benefits of engaging or retaining seniors, Baby Boomers can be forgiven for feeling they cannot win.
Key messages of Bogan and Davies’ book are that there is a significant difference between the word job (‘usually done for hire or a profit’) and work (‘expenditure of energy, application of exertion for a purpose’); that the word retirement implies disappearing from view, and that energies can still be channelled into creative, fulfilling and valuable lives if we eschew what they term the retirement ‘myth’ and decide instead to take charge of decisions about what we do and for how long. The book is full of case studies of people who have embraced the anti-retirement ethos and have gone on to enjoy the rewards of working long after their official ‘sell-by’ date. The authors are realistic about the hurdles involved, but their clarion call is that changing our mindsets now can significantly enhance our later years.
The text has many statistics and demographic details, although there is no index or bibliography, which some might consider a shortcoming However, Bogan and Davies intend their book to be a wake-up call rather than an academic work, and their message is clear. CR practitioners already working in the field of elder mediation will recognise many of the conflicts described. This book is for anyone over thirty and even those who are themselves seniors, or moving in that direction, should find the authors give them the inspiration and confidence to redirect their lives at any stage. As the book reminds us - ‘think of your hair as silver, not grey’.