A Retirement Full of Transitions

It can be hard to think about what you want your retirement to look like. How do you plan to spend your time? How will you structure your week when Mondays can feel just like Saturdays? Many people assume they’ll just keep doing what they’ve been doing all along, while others plan for change. The bottom line is that transitioning into retirement is challenging, especially since it’s an end of something, like your primary occupation, but the beginning of so much more.

Planning is critical, of course, but not only the dollars and cents. You’ll want to figure out why you’re retiring and what it means to you – what kind of retirement you’ll want to live. Research and practical experience tell us that the concept of retirement is changing. Longevity expectations are increasing, and the pandemic has altered the outlook for many. Retirees today could encounter multiple transitions during a retirement that spans decades.

Along these lines I found an article on MarketWatch that interviews a counseling professor who, at 91, is still searching and working on her own transitions, even after many years of “retirement”. Here are some excerpts from the article and a link at the end if you’d like to read the whole thing…

Nancy K. Schlossberg, an author and former counsellor [… has] written about the transition to retirement for decades and [has switched] paths a few times herself in the last couple of decades. Now at 91, she’s starting an entirely new journey, acting as a consultant for Zoom programs about transitions in life.

Continue reading…

She came across the six types of retirees, as she identifies them, when she herself retired more than 20 years ago. “I was a little bit at sea when I retired,” she said. “My field was transitions and counseling. I expected it to be easy and it was not.” After searching, she decided to write about retiring, adjusting to a new lifestyle and making the most of this next phase. She began interviewing retirees about the avenues they took to where they are today. 

The Adventurer 

This type of retiree ventures into the unknown, taking on a new job they’ve never done before. 

One man she spoke with was the head of a research group for Congress in his 60s when he lost his job. He took a sailing trip and reflected and remembered when his wife and child died years ago, massage therapy helped him heal. He came home and told his wife he planned to go into massage therapy. Another woman Schlossberg interviewed was a homemaker — the chief executive officer of a small family business, as she describes women who stay home to help raise a family — and in the middle of transitioning to retirement because her children were grown and moved out. She loved art museums, so she applied to be a docent.

Anyone can experiment with a new hobby or job based on their interests. One way to break into the field is to become an intern, Schlossberg said. 

The Continuer 

“Then there were people like me, who continued doing some of what I had done but in a modified way,” she said. Schlossberg was no longer a professor, or had a job with a salary, but she was walking a path she was familiar with — conducting interviews and research in a field she had been in for decades. 

The Easy Glider 

One man told her he was going to “sloth,” as in do nothing and see where life takes him. “An easy glider is a person who has no agenda, who just wakes up in the morning and asks, ‘what should I do?’ and lets each day emerge,” Schlossberg said.  

This path doesn’t work for everyone. Some people may feel stir crazy if they don’t have a new routine or purpose in retirement. But for others, especially those in physically demanding jobs, it’s a way to enjoy the little moments of the day with relief. 

The Involved Spectator 

This is the type of person who wants to be immersed in a field, although not make a full-time job of it. For example, a retired museum director who goes to art exhibits all the time, or a retired political consultant who is still very involved in political events, like voter registration. “They’re really involved, not as workers but as spectators,” Schlossberg said. 

The Searcher 

Almost everyone is a searcher at some point in their retirement, because they’re figuring out their next move. Someone may be a searcher as soon as they retire, or years after they initially retired, like Schlossberg did. She was a continuer — writing book after book — but then she realized she had enough of that. After some time to think about it, she decided she’d help organizations in other ways, such as develop Zoom programs about transitioning. “I had no idea I would be a searcher again, and then to find at my age a new variation of a theme,” she said. “Everybody is going to be a searcher.” 

The Retreater 

When she was first conducting interviews with retirees, she considered this to be the more depressing transition. Essentially, the retreater is a “couch potato,” she says, who “can’t figure out what to do.” But there are two types of retreaters — the one who is depressed in retirement because she has no purpose, and the one who is “retreating” until he can determine his next steps. “That’s like taking time out,” Schlossberg said. 

Retirement is a time to explore. Figure out what interests you, what doesn’t, and how you want to spend your free time in this next phase. Test out a few different fields, such as volunteering or going to events and establishments that fit your interests. “It’s very similar to being a college graduate,” Schlossberg said. “There are some people who know exactly what they want to do and the same is true with retirees. But there are those who don’t know, and it is time to explore, to search, to just go wild.”

Some people use retirement as the time to expand on a career they would have wanted to pursue if they could decades before, when money was tight or there were more hurdles to accomplishing these goals. It’s important for retirees to estimate how much these activities might cost before pursuing them, just to ensure they are able to afford this new path as well as the necessities in retirement, such as housing, food, utilities and an emergency account. Their journey might even be lucrative and bring in more income. 

Here’s the link if you’d like to read the whole article.


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