In this imagined life, you cease responding to texts and emails that waste your time. You’ll never again endure a narcissist’s rant.
No long commutes, improbable targets and boring, stupid meetings.
In this new life, the day unfolds just the way you’d like. You’ll ditch every person who really doesn’t matter to you because that’s what people do when time is precious.
Ahead is travel, moments to stare at a river running, tea on the porch with old Aunt Phoebe and sharing gourmet strawberry-blueberry popsicles with a four-year-old grandchild who makes you swoon.
You’ll work. Oh yeah.
This work beams enthusiasm and engagement into your life because you choose it. Best of all, you’ll make some money and avoid the #1 reported worry of running out of money in retirement.
Life will be grand, believe me.
If you are mid-50s, 60s or 70s and don’t think this way, you should.
Just ahead is a big chunk of freedom, time and more than enough choices to create a life doing more what you want. It’s the last shot at getting it right which makes it different than other times in life.
This new life that heads straight for us but seems far away gets little of our bandwidth.
We make no firm plans. We prepare nothing in advance, put nothing in order nor concoct even one hair brain scheme to test the premise that the last third of life could be our very best.
It’s pure madness.
Yes, I have a snarky attitude when it comes to a lack of thought and plans for a life of productive longevity from ages 60-90.
I survived an unfortunate experience of boredom and confusion caused by doing exactly what most of you do – “not thinking about what you want life to be or exploring the work you want to do.”
The good news is I made it out of that hard transition and now I do have a life I love. The life I crafted has meaningful work, vistas of tugs on the inter-coastal waterway with morning coffee, months-long Airbnb rentals in third world countries and cycles along the turquoise pristine water of the Gulf of Mexico.
I manage to do all this while keeping a good marriage going with a traditionally retired man. You can applaud here.
Many think what lies ahead will be a great adventure. I so agree.
I’m not against the idea of “figure it all out when I get there.” It works for a few.
But many more professionally successful and smart individuals bomb one of the most important life transitions ever. The stumble surprised them.
Don’t let that happen to you.
Nearly three out of five retirees launch into a new line of work, and working retirees are three times as likely as pre-retirees to be entrepreneurs according to data in Work in Retirement: Myths and Motivations, a study by Merrill Lynch.
You want a working retirement to stay relevant, engaged, and improve your wellbeing. Most important, retirement income is the best financial plan.
Right now you don’t need a map, a business plan, goals or a shrink.
Just set some things in motion.
These seven ideas help build a firmer foundation for career transition and gain information for decision-making in the future.
1. Make Stronger Connections with the Young at Work
Arguably the most striking conversations in workplaces today are about how different the generations are. You may want to reduce your hours at your current job, become a consult within your existing workplace or start your own business within your industry.
Your success hinges on effective working relationship with people thirty years younger than you.
- Will they be cheerleaders for you staying onboard?
- Would they want you as a mentor?
- How willing would they be to teach you things you need to know in your new business?
Millennials are now the largest living generation and they are smart as tacks. Go talk to them, share your expertise, become a better boss, colleague and friend.
2. Find Your Geography of Place
Research confirms that place -where you choose to live – forms the third leg in the triangle of wellbeing, alongside personal relationships and our work. This place forms the building blocks – the environment, people and activities – we will use for identity and belonging in a new life stage.
Do you know where your Geography of Place is?
Time to go find it. Be intentional about exploring places you might like to live. Go visit your possibilities with the lens of “is this the place I want to live and work?”
- Do mountains or deserts fuel your creative spirit?
- Can you live anywhere in the world with a good internet connect to do your future work?
- Do you need a city has the best resources and networking for your next career?
Thinking about becoming a senior entrepreneur? Here are the top 10 cities for older entrepreneurs. Portland has the top spot.
And if you are currently living in your ‘geography of place’ but want a house on the other side of town, make that move now. Don’t wait to sort through ten years of stuff, negotiate a sale, a buy, and a move. (Stressful!)
Start your new life and work with the stress of a real estate transaction and move behind you.
3. Start That Hobby or Dust One Off
Dreams for retirement often include, “I’ll get back into something I loved to do.” The operative word is loved as in once when I was young I found this joyful. Past tense because you haven’t touched that hobby for years evidenced by the rusty, covered 1965 Buick Rivieria next to the garage or the embroidery machine in the attic.
Revive that old hobby and get a current reading on the joy meter. That hobby could be your next work if you still love it or open up a space for new possibilities if it’s time to move on.
Likewise if think your future obsession is bird watching then spring for a field guide and take a crack at it on a long vacation to Ecuador.
Open up a new life with a launch into things you know fit you now.
4. Start Interval Training for New Career
One new working lifestyle is to create an entirely different career. Gaining experience can happen later, but right now build knowledge through courses, workshops and online seminars.
You can even go further. For example, Paul launched a home inspection business immediately after he retired and moved to Florida. He completed certifications and obtained his license during the last two years of his full time job.
Could organic farming be your new thing? WWOOF – Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms – connects people and places for you to gain experience in organic farming and the lifestyle by volunteering (accommodations and meals included.)
While vacation time might work for this kind of experience a career break of 4-6 weeks would be better. (See #6 – Take a Pre-Retirement Sabbatical.)
5. Re-Charge Your Network
Individuals who successfully transitioned into work after retirement found that a strong network was key to success. While we have garnered a large network during our careers with 500-plus connections on LinkedIn, many of us have let networks go stale. The reality is that those contacts and connections are not current.
Marc Miller and Susan Lahey, authors of Repurpose Your Career, suggests we need a tribe – a small group of people who will get us through a career pivot. Your tribe could be within your network of old connections.
Ignite some of these friendships one at a time by reaching out, admitting you’ve lost touch and show an interest in them. That’s a best first step to an active, strong network.
6. Take a Pre-Retirement Sabbatical
Chris Farrell, author of the outstanding resource, Unretirement: How Baby Boomers are Changing the Way We Think about Work, Community and the Good Life advocates a pre-retirement sabbatical.
Time out can be designed in a variety of ways – an internship for cheesemaking, reflection, or finding a geography of place.
Individuals successfully negotiate sabbaticals at any stage of their careers. But now, more than ever, the time out from your career can add momentum and clarity to a future life you choose.
The Ultimate Toolkit for Writing and Presenting a Killer Sabbatical Proposal Your Boss Can’t Refuse is the best, most valuable resource you’ll want to accomplish this.
7. Do One Wild Thing.
Audiences always ask me “what do you mean by this?”
Simply put, many of us have forgotten how to flirt with possibilities.
Often the intentional act of doing something we deem extraordinary and out of our comfort zone (way out preferably) ignites a dormant place within us.
We become more ambitious for living.
Life is heightened when you find your wild heart again. Discover Your Wild Heart: Sleep Under a Railroad Trestle will get you going.
Let’s close with this:
Go and Find It. Go
And look behind the ranges —
Behind the Ranges.
Lost and Waiting
For You. Go!
All Photos by B. Pagano.