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Reframing What Retirement Means to You

You’ve hit that stage of life—retirement is around the corner.  You know you are ready to move on from your current career but you’re not sure what that means.  Can you live the life you want with the money and resources you have now?  Can you earn enough doing the things you love?  

You know your story isn’t over yet.  You still want to make a meaningful contribution but you’re not sure how or where to begin.  Does it need to be paid work?  Can you volunteer for causes that are important to you?  How do you find new opportunities?  What if I get it wrong?  You want more time to explore your interests and passions.  You may even want to start another career.

You want to reimagine what retirement means…  but where do you begin? 

Easing Into Retirement

Retirement, as we know it, became popular in the 20th century with the introduction of public and private pension plans and Social Security.  During the early 20th century, we traded our physical labor for a paycheck.  By the close of the 20th century, many of us were trading our knowledge for a paycheck.  Many Baby Boomers want to continue to have meaningful contributions in retirement.  And in the 21st century, work-life balance, flexibility and meaning has defined the new generation of “workforce".

Today, many people want to retire between 60 and 67.  Yet, we are living longer than we have in the past. Retirement is the only life stage where years are being added. These extra years have given us the opportunity to reimagine what aging and engagement means and to create a new kind of retirement.  You don’t throw away your favorite pair of jeans because they are no longer in style.  You find small ways to adjust your fashion to make them more stylish and current. Why not also make adjustments to “retirement?” What does this stage of life mean to  you?

Time: Your Most Valuable Retirement Asset

A typical 65-year old can plan to live 20 or more years after retiring. Wow!  That’s a long time to spend on a traditional retirement.  

Retirement is no longer just about financial independence or having saved enough to spend your last few years relaxing from the grind of the 9 to 5 job.  Today’s retirement is about exploring new opportunities to build the life you want.  

Retirement is being redefined to include time independence. The ability to control your own time and schedule in order to achieve the life you desire.

  • You decide where and with whom you spend your time. 
  • You decide what activities and engagements are meaningful for you.  
  • You explore new opportunities, continuing to grow and stay actively engaged.  

How to Reimagine Your Retirement

Fifty plus adults are looking for a different type of retirement. One that includes continued engagement in new and creative ways… and possibly a new career with learning or volunteer opportunities. They envision retirement as a time of renewal and realigning (or rediscovering) their passions. Many look to harness their potential and unlock brand new possibilities.  

This new phase is often referred to as Encore Adulthood — a time in your life when many of your family and financial obligations are lessened, yet you still feel young and vibrant. You are ready to step away from your current career, but you have a strong desire to continue to contribute in meaningful ways.  

Encore Adulthood: The New Retirement Option

So, what do you do instead? The early adopters of Encore Adulthood are forging their own paths.  

  • Mentoring younger employees.  
  • Giving back to their communities through volunteer work.  
  • Bringing their private-sector skills into the non-profit world.  
  • Supporting causes that are important to them.  
  • Taking a leap into entrepreneurship.  

Some are working part time, some full time, some are working only certain months out of the year. Many are taking a short break from a stressful career or a hectic life before embarking on a new journey. Taking time to recharge. Knocking items off their bucket lists. Going back to school to learn new skills.  Taking time to reconnect with friends and family.

It’s no longer about the job with the best prospects for career growth. Now you can better focus on opportunities with the most potential for personal growth. You can decide when, where, and for how long you choose to stay engaged in an Encore endeavor.  It’s more about following a passion rather than a paycheck.

How to Build Your Own Encore Endeavor

Your path will be as unique and individual as you are.  Your first Encore endeavor will likely not be your last.  You will continue to add chapters to the story that is your life — learning, exploring and growing as you discover what financial independence, time freedom and active engagement mean to you.  

Your Encore endeavors are opportunities to explore new interests and leverage your skills because they bring you enjoyment and fulfillment.  You don’t have to turn something into a career.  If it doesn’t work out; try something else.  The focus is on meaningful engagement.  You may have multiple iterations of your next phase, which is not uncommon.

What will you do with your extra years?  

Are you interested in a new type of retirement but aren’t sure it’s possible given your financial situation?  If so, let’s talk.  ReFrame Financial Planning can help you better understand your current financial situation, help you explore options and uncover new possibilities.