Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Rethinking Retirement: Yes, No or Maybe Later

When are you going to retire?

More people are working later in their lives rather than at or near 65. Life expectancy is at least 25 years longer than it was a century ago. A later retirement might be for financial reasons, but there are  plenty of other professionals who really enjoy the work they are doing. Some people want to continue to work either part or full time beyond age 65. Maybe it's good that people are mixing up the three boxes of life- play, learning and work- and not limiting over 65 to just one.

Over half of baby boomers say they are planning to work past age 66. We should expect that people at work and your family and friends may ask you about your plans for retirement, so it's an advantage to have a plan in mind and think through what you envision for your 60's, 70's and beyond.

In planning for the emotional shifts in retirement, it's essential to prepare for how you will replace the satisfaction, contribution and people contact you may have had through work. You want to consider not only what are you are retiring from, but what are you retiring to? Shifting from full time to part time work can be a strategy to ease into the transition and give yourself time to adjust.

Retiring later has to be worked through as a couple if you are partnered, with consideration for your age difference and individual needs. Some couples retire together, while others negotiate one working months or years longer. Before and after the retirement of one or both partners, couples need to work through how roles may need to change, and how they will continue to cultivate both separate and joint activities. I don't recommend that couples spend all their time together as it's not enough fresh input and could lead to suffocating each other emotionally. Balancing individuation and close connection is key at all stages of a couple's relationship.

Learning to love, honor and negotiate through different visions for the this chapter of life is key. Couples can be on the same clocks while working and raising children, but have very different hopes and dreams after that. I'm working with several mature couples who are trying to navigate through their different ideas about retirement and relocation in a way that is loving. Think about discussing these hopes and needs, not assuming that your partner's align with yours.

It's also important to position yourself at work to stay later in your career if that's what you choose. Stay up to date with technology. Keep doing continuing education. Join and be involved in professional associations. Meet and befriend work colleagues of different ages. Communicate your intentions to others at work that you intend to stay longer. Stay engaged and passionate about your work. Learn new things. Take on long-term projects. Be involved in mentoring and reciprocal mentoring relationships. Keep setting goals and working towards them.

Retirement? Maybe, maybe not. It's a whole new world of possibilities, and all the old assumptions are out. If we are likely to live past 80, we're getting bonus years our great grandparents didn't have. It's bonus time to do whatever we enjoy and the things that keep us active and engaged in life.

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