Retirement: Make it Uniquely Yours

One Option to Consider is an ‘Encore Career’

Ah, retirement—a lofty dream that many picture as a day in the future when you empty your office, shut off your light for the last time, and your new life begins. But for many of us, retirement can begin to feel like a pie in the sky dream. What if we don’t have enough money to get us through? Can we ever stop working? What if we think we have enough saved for this next phase of life but are concerned about the long-term mental impact of no longer working? The thought of retirement can begin to weigh heavily on the mind.

Some time ago, I had the pleasure of listening to Marc Freedman of Encore.org speak on what he calls “encore careers.” His vision is to transform the aging of America by challenging those who leave their careers to combine their wisdom with their personal passions and to inspire the next generation. The idea is that retirement doesn’t have to be an end date. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It doesn’t mean you’re set out to pasture. You can make it your own, design it to fit you and perhaps improve your quality of life while also impacting your community for the better.

What if we all do as Freedman suggests by challenging the retirement status quo and forging a new trail? Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

Phase into Retirement

Who says retirement must be all or nothing? If money is an issue, perhaps consider a compromise: leaving your current full-time job a few years earlier than planned while working elsewhere a few days a week. If you like to garden, maybe it’s a part-time job at a gardening center! Or a bicycle shop or golf course. Something that would bring in extra money but is also something you enjoy. A little bit of part-time income can significantly reduce the stress on your nest egg, which may allow you to leave your full-time career sooner.

Pull Retirement Activities into the Present

Pondering how to spend your days in retirement can help as you prepare for the transition. But why just think about it? In our connected world with Etsy.com and Facebook marketplaces, if there’s a hobby you plan to pursue in retirement, why not use it to bring in some extra income now? If you enjoy crafting, sell your craft! If you enjoy woodworking, sell your projects. You could pursue the hobby while continuing your career but point any extra money toward your retirement savings. Sharing your passion while bringing in a little extra money is a win-win. And, if it may allow you to leave a career you hate a little earlier, it’s a win-win-win!

An Encore Career

If you’ve not seen the movie “The Intern,” it’s worth a watch. In the movie, a retired executive (Robert De Niro) takes an internship with a start-up fashion company in Brooklyn. The influence he has on his young coworkers and the company’s founder (Anne Hathaway) will warm your heart. An encore career could be paid or unpaid. If paid, the financial benefits are obvious. But, if money isn’t a concern, you could partner with any company and use your wisdom to have a positive impact on the organization and your community. Encore.org is full of inspiring stories of people who did just that. I encourage you to check it out. It could change your perspective on this new phase of life and generations to come may thank you for it!

Your path to retirement or your retirement itself doesn’t have to look like your neighbor’s or your parents’. It can be uniquely yours and can be ripe with promise and passion. Make it your own! Just like with an upcoming vacation, the anticipation is half the fun. Blaze your own trail, set your sights on a new phase that fills you with excitement, and take the first step to get you there!