Today the experiences of those who are currently exploring retirement differ in important ways from previous generations. For example, both partners often have had careers as opposed to a sole breadwinner for the family. Together with your partner and individually, you will need to decide how to change gears from working to retirement. Sometimes partner’s retirement timelines and expectations align and other times they don’t.
Another experience may be that your family is non-traditional, have children from previous relationships, or no children at all. Finally, previous generations may have been content with filling their time with slowing down but those nearing retirement now are often expecting more.
Not only do you want to orchestrate the encore years of your work lives, you may also need to figure out how to align the next chapter of your home life. How much time do you want to spend together with your partner, and how do the day-to-day activities change now that your work schedules are shifting? How you navigate these changes may impact your opportunity to live healthy, active, independent and engaged lives.
Choosing Your Retirement Path
Studies show that having the opportunity to choose a preferred retirement path can impact well-being. How people feel about their retirement transition, whether they are stressed or happy in retirement – appears to be mostly affected by whether they get to choose their particular transition. Circumstances that can interrupt the best laid plans are often due to unexpected health events, changes to your job outside your control, or the needs of other family members. What can you do to have options that give you more control over the timing of your transition or better prepare you for the certainty of uncertainty?
- Look at your retirement readiness through the lens of needs and wants. Once your needs are covered, you can transition to financial independence. Any continued work can help to fulfill your wants category. Knowing that your needs will be covered may help to lessen the fear should your retirement transition come sooner than expected.
- Explore how you can transition your job experience and interests into part-time work. This may be with your current employer or with an entirely different type of organization like a non-profit. Again, knowing what you need to cover your expenses or to finish filling your wants category may give you the flexibility you need to accommodate changing life circumstances.
- Talk to your partner about their expectations about retirement, un-retirement (returning to work after retiring) and their vision of life after work. How similar or different are your visions for the future? How important is it for you to highly align your retirement timelines and visions?
Making the Most of Your Bridging Time to Retirement
For many people retirement is anything but a simple one-step transition from full-time work to no work at all. This bridging time often provides an opportunity to “try on” retirement for a while and see what works for you and your partner and what isn’t working. How can you minimize the physical and mental health declines that are often associated with the post retirement years? A study on The Effects of Retirement on Physical and Mental Health Outcomes show that adverse health effects are mitigated if the individual is in a relationship, has social support, continues to engage in physical activity post-retirement, or continues to work part-time upon retirement.
What can you do now, while you are working to build those social or physical activities outside of work?
- Volunteer – Who knows, it could turn into your next job, as well as creating community along the way.
- Fitness – Join a local fitness center. Classes are a great way to meet people while getting physical activity.
- Hobbies – Hobbies come in all shapes and sizes. From woodworking to knitting, there are groups in many communities.
- Learn – Consider a book club, take a course – for instance, at the University of Minnesota seniors can audit classes for free or take classes for credit for as low as $10 per credit. Form a history group in your neighborhood and take turns presenting on a person in history that interests you.
Financial wellness is just one of the many planning elements in a successful transition from working to retirement.