Life goes so quickly. The experiences flash by, in a never-ending flood. I’m amazed that my children are adults, that I’ve been an empty-nester for a decade, that I find myself reading about retirement, looking ahead to a time when I’ll have to think about that phase of life.
Of course, ideally, you think about this subject when you’re young and just starting out…you think about it so you can plan financially, and maybe even plan a career path for yourself…how you’ll navigate stages of opportunity and responsibility.
We did some of that. The financial piece is in place.
What’s a little less clear is what the next chapter of life will actually look like.
A lot of people (I’m speaking of the US population here) will have to work longer, beyond the traditional retirement threshold.
A lot of people want to continue working, in some capacity, whether part time or full time, in the same field they’ve been in, or perhaps in a completely different setting . Some people really enjoy the energy, the drive, and yes, the income, that comes from work.
I fall into the latter group, crafting a path out of choice. I’m sure at some point it will make sense to stop working, and when that time comes, I hope I can be accepting. Maybe I’ll even be eager.
But for now, I don’t have to name that date. I do want control. I want options.
At 55, I want to work out of choice, and interest, and joy.
The balance I’ve struck is part-time work, full-time life.
So what does that mean? It means I work in block time, and my work is built around projects, and is time-limited. I have access to health insurance, typically one of the components that keeps people tethered to working, and I’m paid hourly for the work I do.
If you’re in the planning stages, think about the way you work now.
- Do you want to stay in the field you’re in? Can you change the way you work in that field?
- Is there another interest you’d like to develop? To make a hobby pay income? To try the thing you always wanted to do?
- Can you job share?
- Can you take your skills on the road and quench a desire to travel while working along the way?
- Can you move from an employee to consultant?
- Can you work through an agency to fill temporary duty assignments?
- What do you know how to do that you could teach to others?
- Do you need or want to work full time?
- Have you done the math to know how much you need to live on each month?
- Do you know the standard of living you want or need to maintain?
- Is it more important to you to travel, to be able to stop working entirely, or to enjoy a regular and relaxed routine?
- Have you talked this out with your partner and family?
- Do you know someone you can look to for advice or example? Someone who’s living the type of life you want to live?
So many of these questions raise other questions, and if you’re planning with a spouse or family in the picture, you have others’ needs and desires to fit into the equation.
Regardless of where you are with the process, spend some time and think about the big picture…how you see yourself in your 50s, in your 60s…what options do you want to have?
It’s exciting, to realize you have options, you can have choice about your future.
You just have to know what you want.
I’m thinking…how ’bout you?