I’ve had two clients in the recent past who struggled with whether or not they should retire. Neither client cared for their jobs, but didn’t think they were ready for retirement, and so decided to stay put until they figured out ‘what was next.’
Shift From Full-Time To Part-Time Work
In the first case, the client ultimately decided to retire from her job, realizing that she could just as easily figure out what came next in the non-work world. However, not wanting to make the leap entirely, she spent two years trying a variety of different part-time options. She didn’t ultimately find anything that piqued her interest long term, so she decided to stop trying. After two years of transitional part-time work, she was ready for full retirement. She soon shifted into a routine of the gym a few mornings a week… tennis or golf on the other days… and more time with a relatively new spouse and grandkids.
Could working part-time in your current job before retiring help? I think this is a great solution, if your employer allows it. Who wouldn’t love to work three or four days per week, and then have three or four days off? Easing into retirement is a great option if it’s available.
My client was lucky, and initially filled her time with part-time work, which enabled her to gradually acclimate to the idea of full retirement. She also had outside interests and a supportive family, which contributed to her smooth transition.
Unfortunately, my second client is in a different situation, and part-time work is off the table. His job is demanding and the environment is dysfunctional and draining; every day is a struggle. He knows he should go—largely because it would dramatically improve his mental health—but he doesn’t have many outside interests. Not only that, but he’s also single with no children or grandchildren, and so is at a loss for what he would do in those 40 hours a week that he now spends at work. Recently, the client decided to engage a therapist who specializes in transitions to see if that will help.
Take A Pre-Retirement Gap Year
He might also benefit from taking a gap year before leaping into retirement. You probably know about the gap year between high school and college. (Most recently, we heard that Malia Obama was taking a gap year.) My client is an animal lover; maybe there’s an opportunity to volunteer for a non-profit that rescues animals.
Gap years are no longer just for the young. There are structured programs and opportunities for those over 50, as well. Maybe that’s the answer my client needs: Scour the programs and opportunities, see what grabs his interest, and make a plan to go.
Should you be interested in service, the Peace Corps offers three month in-country training with a two year commitment. Two additional resources to explore for those looking to take a pre-retirement gap year are www.goabroad.com and www.volunteerforever.com. I must admit that while looking at Volunteer Forever, I found at least six opportunities I would love to sign up for. I’ll start crafting my auto-responder now…