Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Should I stay or should I go? 29: retiring, and phasing out of work as a work-life transition 1

Posted in book recommendations, career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on October 10, 2016

This is my 29th installment to a series on intentionally entered into, fundamental job and career path change, and on best practices for deciding both when and how to carry through on it (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 416 and following for Parts 1-28.) And this is also my first posting to this series where I will begin addressing the issues of retirement, and phasing into it.

In that, retirement can be made as a single step switch, from working essentially full-time to not working at all – at which point a new retiree might find themselves with time on their hands and seemingly nothing meaningful to do with it, and even if money is no issue and they could afford to simply stop working. Or they could transition into retirement by working part time, or as a consultant, or as a volunteer or in some other way.

That begs a key question: the question of need. Not everyone who is ready to retire, for example from age and health considerations can afford to do so. So issues of need and how best to respond to them, enter into this overall discussion too and should probably be addressed first and from both a pro and con perspective.

I begin this section of this series with an admission. I am currently going through a transition into retirement myself so the points and priorities that I will raise are influenced by my own direct and immediate experience as well as by the fruits of my research and the insight of others. I am planning on offering a more complete series on retirement and the retirement transition in this blog, and to my jobs and careers Guide in it as a separate endeavor here. As such, I am only going to selectively delve into one aspect of that complex set of issues for now.

As noted above, I will start with the issues of why retire, or at least slow down and the issues of feasibility and need there. And then I will look into at least a few specific next-step options. And as an initial options list for how to more gradually transition out of work, a prospective retiree can:

• Continue working but only part time at essentially the same type of job that they have already been doing, perhaps with reduced managerial or other responsibilities than they have been carrying, or other relevant accommodations.
• Working at essentially the same job as before, but with greater emphasis on training others in the skills and experience that a more experienced professional has accumulated.
• One path to this approach is in fact consulting, which might be with an ongoing, familiar client business and even in-house for them.
• Or this might mean taking on new business clients, and certainly if you work in an industry and with skills where this would be a viable option and you are not hemmed in by non-compete constraints from a prior employer.
• You can also, of course, make a more disruptively novel change here and try pursuing a dream job that you have always wanted, but that your ongoing career path has never left you time for.
• You can, as mentioned above try volunteer work, or work at a perhaps more limited pace and on a more limited schedule for a nonprofit that has come to mean a lot for you for its mission and vision.

I am writing here about doing at least some work that you would find meaningful and fulfilling as you approach a fuller retirement and as a step towards shifting into that. And I am writing about meeting ongoing financial needs at a time in your life where you cannot necessarily afford to simply retire outright, but where change is becoming more overtly necessary, or at least more significantly important to you.

I offered Part 12 of this series as an orienting start to a progression of related postings to come, on startups as a career change option. And I offered Part 17 as an introduction on the specific career change options provided by franchise opportunities, and Part 21 as an orienting introduction to the issues that arise when buying or selling off a small business or professional practice. I offer this posting in that same vein as an orienting introduction to more end of work life career changes.

And I end this initial orienting discussion by offering a book recommendation, that I have found very helpful in my planning and as I actually work my way through the process of retiring myself:

• Taylor, R.K. and D. Mintzer (2011) The Couple’s Retirement Puzzle. Lincoln Street Press.

And with that reference in mind, I note a detail that might seem obvious if explicitly pointed out, but that can be easy to overlook. If a person who is retiring or approaching that is married or has a life partner, their decisions and actions in this are going to significantly impact upon both of the people involved – and not just financially. I will of necessity discuss that dimension to this complex of issues here too, simply noting for now that any really significant career change can and most likely will affect more than just one person and for many if not most of us. And the points that I would rise in this context, apply to a significant degree to all of the transition scenarios that I have, will or could raise and discuss in this series. I will explicitly make note of this dimension to retirement here too.

And with this, I complete my basic starter outline for a more extensive and detailed discussion to come, starting in this series’ next installment. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 and at the first directory page and second, continuation page to this Guide.

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