In an earlier time, what we call “retirement” was pretty simple. People worked non-stop until they reached a certain age – then abruptly they stopped working and entered a state called “retirement.” But these days, as with seemingly everything else, flexibility is the new watchword. The old model of retirement which some say hearkens back to the industrial age is simply not the norm any more.
Among many recent articles about this issue of the changing face of retirement, one of the most interesting and thorough treatments we’ve seen appeared last month on the website of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. You can click here to read this insightful article. It’s called “The Case for a Phased Retirement.” As the Wharton researchers put it, “In the same way that flexibility has come to the workplace — where, when and how we work — so, too, has arrived the age of the tailor-made retirement.” These days once unfamiliar terms such as “phased retirements, bridge jobs, un-retirement and second and third acts” are being commonly and openly discussed when people think about continuing to work after the typical, traditional, so-called retirement age. The reason for this trend, says Wharton, is simple. “Workers are demanding it, and firms have good cause to accommodate the idea that work does not one day simply stop.”
Workers are insisting on this radical transformation in the retirement landscape for multiple reasons, some encouraging and some less so. First, let’s consider what some might call the bad news: quite a few people continue to work into their late 60’s and 70’s chiefly because they have to. The lack of retirement savings on the part of most boomers has been well documented, and when you combine paltry savings with job losses during the Great Recession, skyrocketing debt, and the fact that people today are living longer, staying on the job is hardly an option for some. But on the opposite end of the economic spectrum, the news is much more encouraging. “The reasons people at the upper and lower ends of the income scale keep working,” says the Wharton article, “is very different. If you ask people at the low end, they say ‘I need the money,’ they are working because they have to. At the upper end, they say ‘I’d like to make a contribution.’ They are working because they want to.”
And that, we suggest, is what makes this whole idea of Phased Retirement so exciting and intriguing. Researchers from Boston College studied retirees and found that 60% of those who leave their primary careers end up doing something else, including working part-time or changing to a whole new career in retirement. “For those who can afford to ease out of fulltime work, the options are flourishing,” says the Wharton analysis. Many companies, fearful of the “brain-drain” that can happen when seasoned workers retire, are starting to come up with ways for these trained men and women to ease into retirement by cutting hours gradually, not all at once. Some of these programs even include a requirement that older workers spend part of their time mentoring their younger counterparts. Since 60-80% of older workers say they would prefer to stay in the workplace on a more limited schedule after the age of “formal” retirement, this concept seems like a win-win to us.
So once again we encourage you to read this important article (you can click here to access it) and as you do we hope it causes you to stop and consider what Phased Retirement could mean for you. Chances are you have many more years of active, productive living ahead of you, and it’s a virtual certainty that you have important knowledge and skills that an employer – your present one or another one – could find highly useful. Phased Retirement can help you financially, of course, but the benefits go far beyond money to include better physical health, sharper mental skills, and a deep sense of personal satisfaction that comes from giving back to those around you. These benefits are priceless.
Perhaps it’s time for you to take a fresh look at retirement. Here at AgingOptions, we can offer you a brand new perspective on this dynamic and exciting time of life. There’s no need to fear growing older – quite the opposite! But if retirement is a journey, you need a good map and a trained, professional guide to get you where you want to go, with your assets well-protected and your independence and security preserved. That “map” is a type of retirement plan we call a LifePlan, a carefully crafted and comprehensive blueprint that takes all the critical facets of retirement into account. As we work with you to craft your LifePlan, we consider your financial security, your housing options, your legal preparation, your health care needs and the importance of having your family informed and supportive of your desires. Your LifePlan is the best method we’ve ever discovered to help turn your retirement hopes and dreams into reality.
Your first step on the road to discovering a new approach to retirement is a simple one: plan to attend one of our free LifePlanning Seminars. These information-packed sessions will open your eyes to a world of possibilities while answering many of your questions about practical issues related to retirement planning. Click here to go directly to our Upcoming Events page where you’ll find dates, times and online registration. It will be our pleasure to meet you at a LifePlanning Seminar soon!
(originally reported at http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu)