An article with this headline appeared in today’s Calgary Herald and it really got me thinking. It reported that the oldest baby boomers showed little interest in leaving the workforce even before the economic downturn descimated their savings. Financial necessity has made retirement even less attractive. Still, experts believe deferred retirement is more about baby boomers wanting to stay engaged.
Whatever the motivation for staying employed, gone are the golden years of retirement, when one would adopt a life of leisure and enjoy the fruits of years in the labour force. These days we’re literally working ourselves to death.
While an older ‘willing to work’ force will stave off an anticipated shortage of skilled workers as boomers age, it could also mean more health problems and higher benefit costs, and employers may be compelled to confront the “very delicate” issue of dementia on the job – especially if health and wellness continues to take the back seat among working Canadians.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for having a choice ‘to work, or not to work’. The problem lies in the choices we then make as busy, working Canadians ‘to exercise or not to exercise’. Health Canada statistics suggest that it’s during our prime working years (between the ages of 18-59) that lack of time, energy and motivation sap efforts at getting and staying healthy. If boomers are in fact delaying retirement in favour of work, I expect the above age range will expand to include 60+ and we’ll see a further increase in sedentary rates and diseases of lifestyle across the country.
Work is a necessary part of life, but if it impacts our overall health and enjoyment of life we have to ask ourselves if the long hours and extended working years are worth compromised health?
I regularly present life balance and stress management seminars to busy individuals in big organizations, and since work is non-negotiable, your health should be too. I encourage workers of all ages to re-prioritize health practices like exercise, eating healthfully, and getting enough rest amidst the busy schedules demanded by today’s employers.
GET TO IT
No matter how busy you are, you have the responsibility to grab hold of a portion of each day where you put yourself first. Get over “I’ll get to it when…” by simply making a commitment to begin. The clincher is you needn’t go big to experience success. Remember these two truths:
1) It’s not the doing that’s tough, it’s getting to it!
2) Doing on any level is better than thinking about going BIG.
Once you commit to spending even small amounts of time on daily health practices, you’ll find more time to build the possibilities. Create the habits that align with energy and vitality, and be ready when the momentum of your actions starts to pull you toward new levels of health, self-esteem, and productivity. It will happen, and I promise you, it is wonderful.
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