Lucheryl Hampton loves her job! The Indianapolis hair stylist discovered her passion at an early age. ”At five or six years old, I knew I wanted to become a hair stylist,” she says. After thirty years in a career that has included salon ownership and mentoring others, Hampton still feels energized creating and interacting with her clients.

Boomers like Hampton are reinventing the idea of retirement by performing work they love, and they envision doing well into the future. It is an important trend because workers now in their fifties may be required to work longer than previous generations. Recently the Business Round table, an influential group of U.S. executives, proposed that the minimum age to qualify for Medicare and Social Security should be increased to seventy. Their proposal would not affect people born in 1958 or earlier. Social Security currently provides full retirement benefits to those born in 1960 or later at age sixty-seven.

In the 2010 AARP study, ”Approaching 65: A Survey of Baby Boomers Turning 65 Years Old”, workers had second thoughts about the idea of early retirement. Many of the respondents realized that past generations had nearly 100 percent of their income replaced with Social Security and defined benefit pension plans. The high out-of-pocket costs of health care, decline of corporate pension benefits, and the impact of global economic worries may result in employees working – at least part­time – longer than they ever expected.

Boomers will need to know how to reignite their zest for work to manage a longer career. These three steps will help workers reconnect with their passion when their resolve is waning and they need a career boost.

Develop Optimism 

People want to be around others who uplift them and make them feel better. It is as important at work as it is personally. In a University of Michigan study, researchers found optimistic individuals are more likely to live a healthier and longer life. Socially, the researchers reported, optimists have more frequent and higher quality social contacts as well as more social support. In her work Hampton says, “I don’t view my customers as clients. I develop relationships with them and they become friends that I look forward to seeing and they look forward to seeing me.”

Keep Learning 

There are many benefits to keeping the mind and body engaged by actively pursuing knowledge and experience. Whether a person learns a new skill for their job or personal enjoyment, the benefits are numerous. Learning something new increases self-confidence, creates a feeling of accomplishment, and provides an opportunity to meet others. ”As a hair stylist, I am expected to keep up with trends and innovations. I enjoy learning new things and you have to constantly keep your skills updated,” says Hampton. She credits continuous learning as one of the reasons she enjoys her job now as much as she did thirty years ago.

Maintain Health

While Hampton acknowledges her schedule includes long days, she tries to incorporate healthy habits. “My body may get tired, but I will never get tired of doing hair,” she says. Adequate sleep, a healthy diet and exercise may not appear to have a connection with finding passion at work, but it is difficult to be creative or enjoy a task if a person is depleted.

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