Your Retirement Won’t Come with a Road Map – Carol Hymowitz
What Can We Learn from Blue Zones? – Richard Eisenberg

What Can The Rolling Stones Teach Us About Working Longer?

The Rolling Stones are still going strong well into their 70s

Photo by Joe Casey

by Joe Casey

Do you envision working longer after the “traditional” retirement age?

I had a great experience this month going to FedEx Field in the Washington, DC area to see The Rolling Stones in concert. It was surreal to see a band that I first saw when I was 18 in the mid-’70s with my son who just turned 18 last month.

As we entered the stadium, we passed a truck emblazoned Retire Like a Rock Star by a financial industry association who is sponsoring the tour and promoting annuities.  I was thinking ‘I’m not sure I can learn much about retirement from this band still going strong in their mid to late seventies’ But I could certainly learn a lot from them about working longer.

At first glance, there’s not much that most of us have in common with the lifestyles of the band members. But most of us are pondering working longer. According to the 19th Annual Transamerica Survey of Workers, “70% of Baby Boomers either expect to or are already working past 65 or do not plan to retire. Yet, only 40% report that they are keeping their skills up to date.”

The concert was a blast but I also came away with several takeaways that are useful for any of us who want to work longer.


1. Love What You Do

On the way to the concert my son peppered me with facts about the Rolling Stones. (“Dad, did you know that they’ve played Jumpin’ Jack Flash on every tour since it came out in 1968? quickly followed by “They must be so bored playing that song!”).

Well, if that’s true, you’d never know it seeing them play it at this concert. They opened with it and their performance was impressive in its high energy. They played for over two hours without an intermission. They are clearly outstanding, highly experienced performers, but they also appeared to be genuinely having fun.


2. Pursue Mastery

The day before the concert I was showing my son clips from a Stones concert from the 70s when I first saw them. He was reluctant. He didn’t want to see them in their prime and be disappointed by what he expected to be a band in steep decline. As a young guitarist, he was hyper-focused on the guitar play in the past compared to today. I think he left the event surprised that in some ways he thought that they were even better today.


3. Make Smart Adjustments

One thing we all have in common with the band is that we are all aging. While their energy and passion were notable, you could see in the structure of the setlist and how certain songs were performed that they were mindful about setting the right pace. They knew where they could go all out for a sustained period and where they needed to slow it down. Mick Jagger’s recent surgery may have made this a higher priority, but making intelligent adjustments is something we can all relate to and benefit from.


4. Prepare to Perform at Your Best

Finally, it takes disciplined practice and preparation to perform consistently at a high level. While that’s true for legendary rock stars, it applies to many of our jobs as well, especially as we stay in the game longer.



Joe Casey is a former senior HR executive at Merrill Lynch, who’s created a second career as a retirement coach. He holds a Masters in Gerontology from the University of Southern California and, as a retirement coach and Designing Your Life coach, he helps people discover What’s Next after their primary career. 


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