For most of the last 25 years, I’ve worked with people to help them comfortably transition into retirement. But in an unexpected way, that’s all changed. Today, I spend as much time and energy helping people plan how not to retire, as I do helping people prepare to stop working.
Let me explain what I mean.
A woman I’ll call Barbara recently came in for an appointment to review her financial goals and retirement plan. As the CEO of a successful mid-sized business, Barbara is very good at what she does. So, not surprisingly, financially, she could retire at any time.
However, toward the end of our meeting, I asked her: “What will you do on the very first day you retire?”
She looked at me quizzically, chuckled, and we moved on.
About two weeks later, I received an email from Barbara with the following statement: “Scott, your question has really haunted me. I don’t know what I am going to do once I stop working. Maybe I’m not really ready.”
Not Traditionally Retiring is the New Normal
While Barbara has saved a lot of money, and invested carefully, she’d never really considered how different her life would be once she left her career. Like many of the Boomers I work with, she’s now considering the value of pursuing an “encore career.”
Barbara’s story is not at all unusual for modern pre-retirees. My experience has clearly shown me that Boomers are determined to remain vital to the American economy. In fact, the percentage of working Americans over the age of 65 has increased each and every year since 2000. 
Fast Fact: In May of this year, nearly 9 million people over the age of 65
were employed full or part-time. 
Many of our clients are discovering that the traditional notion of retirement—quitting work and engaging in full-time leisure—is not only undesirable, it doesn’t make a lot of sense when you consider exploding healthcare costs and rapidly rising lifespans.
But there seems to be an even more important reason: Boomers realize that work is an integral part of life that provides meaning and purpose.
Like Barbara, I encourage you to spend time planning for your post-retirement career. Here are 5 facts we share with our clients to help them discern what their next stage could look like:
- Fact #1: Working retirees are 3 times more likely to start new businesses than pre-retirees.
Consider: Retirement-age entrepreneurs are called “retire-preneurs” by some experts. Essentially, you are leveraging work experience, passions, and expertise into a full-time or part-time business venture. Called “slash careers,” lawyers become writers, bank executives become chefs, and middle managers become wedding photographers.
- Fact #2: For each additional year a person works past age 65, they reduce their risk of dementia by 3.2 percent. 
Consider: Do you have an outdated notion of retirement that says, the earlier you retire, the better? Take a look at the cognitive and physical benefits of continuing to work, by staying engaged in meaningful activities, even if it’s not your career job.
- Fact #3: 1 in 7 people age 50 and older are divorced, a rate that has doubled since 1990. Interestingly, this “grey divorce” epidemic comes at a time when rates have declined in every other demographic.
Consider: 42 percent of people over the age of 65 are single. If you find yourself single, would you have to stay in your career longer? How would that impact your finances?
- Fact #4: 4 out of 10 Boomers are proactively keeping their skills up to date so they can continue working past 65, or, if needed, in retirement. 
Consider: Signing up for a class at the local community college or online to learn about a new subject or area of interest, especially if it involves computers.
- Fact #5: 4.5 million people between the ages of 50 and 70 are engaged in working in a second career for motives other than earning a paycheck.
Consider: Redeploy your professional and interpersonal skills as a coach. Take what you gained during your first career to help others in your “next stage.” There are many groups of people who would benefit from your life experience, maturity, and wisdom.
A final thought: While the transition to retirement is first a financial question, it’s clearly not the only question, and perhaps not even the most important one. Now is the time to think about and plan for the experiences you want to have.