Transitioning to Retirement – Use a Dimmer Switch Approach not a Light Switch

March 28th, 2019 by Jim Allen

While the thinking on what retirement is supposed to be has started to shift, for most people the idea / dream of retirement is to stop working altogether. This used to make sense when people worked primarily in manual labor jobs and life expectancy was much shorter than it is today. In the past, retirement was thought of as a way to finish working at a job that may have become too physically demanding and then enjoy the few remaining years left in leisure. So the notion was very much like using a light switch as you were either employed (the switch was on) or you were retired (the switch was off).

However, with all the improvements in technology and medicine over the past few decades, both the work environment and the length of retirement has changed dramatically. You really can’t count on just retiring at age 65, playing golf for 4 or 5 years and then living with declining health for a couple more years until your life switch is turned off altogether. The reality today is that your retirement very well could be 25 to 30 years long, not the 10-15 most people were used to in the past.

With possibly 15 to 20 extra years later in life, it really means you have to change your mind set about what retirement will look like. For instance, if you love your job or profession, why not keep working until health doesn’t let you or you don’t like it any longer? Or, maybe it means starting that “encore” career that you always dreamed of, but just wasn’t that financially feasible while raising a family. Perhaps, it is taking a sabbatical from work for a couple of years and taking all the bucket list trips you were saving until retirement, and then going back into the work force in the same profession or something entirely different. The bottom line is that work isn’t actually this thing to stop doing just because this is what we were taught to do by our parents.

The truth is that for many people, working gives them purpose, satisfaction, and much needed social interaction. Modern technology has made it much easier to try different things, change careers, or work in your current profession for much longer periods of time.  It has also dramatically increased the ability to work remotely. So no longer do you have to be in the office grinding away from 8-5 every day. Now you can be in your mountain cabin or sitting on the beach doing the same work and communicating with co-workers and clients. This gives you great freedom in terms of work life balance, which was typically one of the main reasons people were in a hurry to retire in the first place.

So today’s retirement is going to be much more like the dimmer switch in your bedroom. You have great control over when and how much you lower the lights until you are finally at a spot to turn them off altogether. Our role as holistic financial advisors is to help first identify what your dream retirement can look like and then develop a life plan that can give you the flexibility and freedom to control that dimmer switch however you wish.

Please contact us if you would like a complementary retirement discovery consultation.