It’s an interesting question and for some the answer is easy – I’d retire TODAY if I could. Others wonder what they’d do with themselves if they retired and would miss the camaraderie and connection with their co-workers or customers and still others may have little or no desire to give up the sense of satisfaction and fulfillment they get from their work. I fall into this last category – I love my career as a professional coach and have no intention of retiring any time soon!
The key to any successful transition is having a clear vision of what you want for your future and a plan for how to get there. My husband retired very recently and so far, he’s enjoying himself and isn’t experiencing any sense of loss. Of course, the first few months are often a honeymoon period – the true test will be whether he’s just as happy in a few months time.
My guess is that he will be and that’s because we took steps to help him transition into this new phase of his life.
Steps to planning for a successful retirement
1) Understand your financial situation. If you don’t have a good understanding of what you’ll need to live comfortably in retirement, it’s hard to make the decision to stop work. If you don’t know what your finances will look like in retirement, find a reputable financial advisor and ask them to prepare a financial plan for your retirement, so you’ll know what you need to retire comfortably. We have an excellent advisor that we’ve worked with for many years and with her support, we’re confident we’re in a position where my husband can make the decision to retire.
2) Consider working part-time. Working a shorter work week can help you adjust to having more time for other activities. It’s less of a shock to suddenly stop having to get up at a set time for work and allows you to get used to the idea that day-to-day chores and activities don’t have to be squeezed into 2 days on the weekend. You may also appreciate the extra income to cover travel and other projects you now have time to focus on. My husband used his vacation days to take Friday’s off for the past 6 months and ease his transition.
3) Consider becoming a consultant. If you’re a professional, you may find there’s an opportunity to become a contractor or consultant who works on a project-by-project basis. You’ll have the opportunity to consider different projects of varying durations and of course, there can be tax advantages from being self-employed. I’ve helped a number of clients plan and execute this type of transition.
4) Explore other opportunities. If you’re unhappy in your job, the problem could simply be your immediate boss or the corporate culture of your employer. Finding a new employer whose corporate culture aligns with your values and who provides you with the opportunity to utilize the skills you most enjoy using can give you a whole new perspective on whether you’re ready to retire.
5) Exit gracefully from your employment. Even though you may feel that there are some things you want to get off your chest as you leave your employer behind, consider carefully what you wish to share. If there’s something important you really want them to know, share it in a professional manner and qualify that this is your perspective and why you feel it was something they might want to know. An exit interview is not the time to trash bosses or co-workers as you leave the company, though constructive suggestions of how things could be done differently may be helpful and well received.
6) Find a hobby or pastime you enjoy. Before you retire, begin to explore different activities to see which ones bring you the most joy. My husband began to experiment with photography many years ago and it’s now a passion. I have no doubt that he’ll keep himself busy learning new techniques and connecting with other photographers and participating in special interest groups.
7) Consider volunteering. Many retirees chose to commit time and resources to an organization or cause, they care about. It’s important to think about this carefully before committing your time. You may want to “test drive” volunteering in a small capacity with an organization while you’re still working. Check out my recent article with tips to consider when thinking of volunteering Sue’s Tips for Volunteering
8) Reconnect with old friends and make some new ones. Retirement is a great time to reconnect with friends you’ve known for years and haven’t found time to keep in touch with. It’s also an opportunity to make new friends. While it’s not easy to build deep new friendships at any age, with a positive attitude and a willingness to get out and meet others in a variety of social settings, building new friendships really is possible. If you’re uncomfortable striking up conversations with others, consider attending my bi-monthly virtual Networking for Success Workshop or ask me about the self-directed version of the workshop. Both include a 1-on-1 call with me after the workshop to refine your networking strategy.
9) Create a daily routine for yourself. You may not have to get up and go to work any more, but having a routine that includes exercise, some form of mental stimulation and some fun activities you enjoy will help you feel more centered and generate positive energy and that will probably mean that others want to spend time with you too.
10) Practice gratitude. Remind yourself daily of the people and things in your life that you’re grateful for. It will help you appreciate what you have and help to keep you in a positive frame of mind and that’s beneficial for you and everyone else in your life.
I hope this has helped you begin to plan for your retirement. If you’d like to explore further whether retirement at this point in your life is right for you, I’d love to support you. My very first coaching client wanted to create a vision and a plan for his retirement. When we first started working together, he planned to retire in 1 – 2 years. After working with me, he was so clear on what he wanted and confident that he could achieve it that he retired just a few months after we completed our work together and was very happy with his decision.
Sue Maitland PCC
Life & Career Transitions Coach
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