1) Many of us will go back to work. For some, re-entering the work force will be by necessity. Pensions, investments, real estate price collapses, unexpected health costs, helping a family member....the reasons can be as numerous as there are retirees. But, collecting a paycheck after someone "officially" retires will become too normal to even note.
Some of us will go back to working because we miss the camaraderie or stimulation of an office, retail establishment, or factory floor. While the extra money is nice, for these folks it won't be the primary motivator.
Still more will decide this is the perfect time to start a new business, or turn a hobby into a money-making venture. Opportunities will be as numerous as someone's creativity and drive allow.
2) Health costs will get much worse before getting better. I've written about this enough that I won't belabor the point. Just suffice it to say, I predict the health care picture in the United States is going to get increasingly grim for an increasingly large percentage of our population. Only after several years of applying patches and stop-gap measure to a system-wide problem, will serious solutions begin to be implemented. I am not at all optimistic that anything short of a near collapse of the system will have to occur first. We are very good at kicking the damaged and leaking can down the road time and time again.
3) Extended families will come back into fashion. As part of the problem created by the health care mess, I predict that multi-generational homes will become more typical. Less than one hundred years ago it was quite common for a young family, their parents, and even a great-grandmother to reside in the same home. In many cultures around the world having more than the nuclear family in one home is normal. Personally, I think everyone benefits when families are connected in this way, learning, sharing, and supporting each other. Valuable lessons of responsibility and consequences are taught to the young and old alike.
4) Simple & frugal living will be the mainstream. Over-consumption will be considered abnormal. Sure, there will always be the "keeping up with the Joneses" mindset. I'm afraid that is human nature. But, a throw-away culture that actually accepts the concept of planned obsolescence in manufactured products cannot continue indefinitely. If for no other reason than the crushing financial burden of $100+ a barrel oil, how we have lived can't continue. I grew up with the American Dream. My goals were to accumulate lots of money, own a few homes, vacation in exotic locations, and give my kids everything. I pursued and lived that dream for several decades until a cold dose of reality shattered that game plan.
The end result was an awareness that such a lifestyle was ultimately a failure. None of those material possessions or choices resulted in happiness. Only when I was forced to re-look at how I was using my limited resources did I grasp that I am much happier with fewer "things" and more people in my life.
5) The biggest threat to our safety and security will not be from a foreign country, but from our reliance on technology. Virtually our entire financial system, national security, and provision for basic necessities are controlled by computers. Hacking, spamming, phishing, and deliberate attempts to defraud and destroy people and institutions are the full time "jobs" of tens of thousands of people around the world. They are dedicated to making your life unpleasant, or downright miserable. Computer systems are so prevalent and so easily disrupted, that our society is at much more at risk of a technological attack then a military one.
6) A satisfying retirement will look virtually nothing like your parent's, and certainly not like your grandparents. The definition of the word is already undergoing a complete overhaul. In fact, the entire concept may cease to exist. Maybe life will simply be seen as a series of stages that we move through, some more work-intensive, and some more growth and reflection-based. But, there won't be a magic line in the sand that once you step over it, everything changes.
Are you ready to put on your thinking cap, gaze into that crystal ball, or break open a fortune cookie? You may disagree with one or more of the above predictions and want to help me see the light. Or, maybe there is another trend or reality looming in our future that needs to be discussed. The nice thing about predictions is everyone can have them and be just as likely to be correct. So, fire away.