Not quite ready for retirement?

Baby boomers are all too familiar with the tried-and-tested, ultimate career transition, retiring from a full-time career to full-time, retirement. We saw how our parents retired at age 65, and ‘rode into the sunset’.

Times have changed.

Boomers have been more health conscious and active in their adult lives than their parents. It is not surprising that, approaching retirement age, many boomers realize that they still have a lot ‘left in the tank’ and are not quite ready to be full-time retirees.

How can we not be ready? Who, after all, needs the long commute and working hours at the office? Can mere mortals ever say no to spending more time on … whatever they like?

A friend of mine, ‘Chris’ (not his real name), a former I.T. manager in his mid-fifties, retired after the company moved its operations overseas.

Before his retirement, Chris was longing to spend more time with his wife, a full-time homemaker. Little did the couple know that post retirement, spending all that time together would not be as gratifying as they once thought. Knocking things off your shared bucket list, such as traveling to see the Great Pyramids or the Great Wall of China, is always fun, but unless you sell your house and live a nomadic lifestyle, there is always going to be unspectacular down time together that you need to fill.

A developing social phenomenon today is that baby boomers are changing careers, quitting their full-time jobs to start a business, become self-employed or take on part-time, semi-retirement jobs, often at reduced income levels. While the benefits are numerous and personal, it requires a great deal of preparation to ensure a smooth transition from full-time employment and to carve your personal career niche at mid-life.

The following are what boomers should strive for before making the move.

  • Debt-free
  • Technology savvy
  • Socially engaged
  • Outside interests

Debt-free

Let’s face it. You cannot be truly free if you are not financially free, debt-free. If you have a mortgage, you have a non-negotiable obligation to your creditor and are not free to settle for a lower income, even for a short transitional period while you pursue your career niche.

While we are still on the topic of personal finance, we should paint an accurate picture of the post full-time employment lifestyle. Most likely, you will have less income to spend as you wish. But, the good news is that you can manage it, not to bear with it while weeping and gnashing of teeth, but to appreciate a simpler yet enjoyable lifestyle.

The key is to pay down your debt, starting today.

Tech savvy

Many baby boomers resign from full-time employment to become self-employed or part-timers. As a result, telecommuting is often their new work arrangement. Instead of commuting to an office to perform work, you now work from home. Now pause for a moment and visualize the supporting technologies that were previously provided to you in the office (high-speed Internet, hardware, software, I.T. support, etc). To work remotely, you need to replicate the same capabilities at your home office.

To complicate life even further, telecommuting requires a whole new set of technologies to empower the virtual work team. That means you need to master these new technologies to be productive. For instance, Slack is a popular cloud-based collaboration and communication platform that enables virtual team members to exchange information through chats, documents, video and audio conferences.

Start improving your digital skills today to prepare for the day when you will work at home.

Social engagement

One undeniable side benefit for working in an office, surrounded by your co-workers, is that you feel connected socially. Conversely, working at home can make a person feel isolated. To some, the office is how they moor to the rest of society, and cutting the office tie sets them socially adrift.

‘Make new friends, but keep the old.’

– Girl scouts of the U.S.A

For boomers, unfortunately, the attrition rate for old friends is rather high due to involuntary natural causes. So, the main takeaway for us baby boomers is new.

We all know that friendships take time and effort to build. So, let’s get going.

Outside interests

Outside interests, aka vocations, hobbies, pastimes. It does not matter what you call them. What is important is that you have them. As we wind down our career, we need to build up new interests to fill the time voids and to make our lives interesting for ourselves and the people around us.

Start now, and you will never regret that it is too late.

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