Phased Retirement: Make Some Waves

When someone retires, regardless of how much preparation they’ve done, they’ll likely go through a series of stages. 

In a traditional retirement scenario, you might have stages that look like this: Retirement Day (yay!), the Honeymoon Period (this is so awesome!), Disillusionment (is this it?), and then it’s either Figure it Out…or Back to Work (Tom Brady)!

Why not plan for and embrace these stages?  A better way to think about retirement might be to think of it as a series of connected ‘waves’ rather than discrete stages.  This approach lends itself well to a Phased Retirement – in fact you can use the notion of waves to plan out each phase before it happens.

So, let’s make some waves!  To keep it simple I’ll just call out 3 potential ‘waves’ while noting that each of these might be made up of many smaller waves.

The first wave is Pre-retirement planning; this is the time to get ready.  Envision your various waves and consider where you’ll live (either permanently or temporarily), who you’ll be with, what you’ll be doing, how you’ll handle finances, etc.

The next wave is Transition; this phase is ongoing and may last for years.  This is the time to slow your career commitments so you can pursue other activities.  As you move through the transition wave – or waves – you should plan on time to reflect and reassess your thinking about life in retirement. Transition time is a great time to make adjustments and course corrections as you gather information.  This is basically the key tenet of embracing a Phased Retirement approach.

The final wave is your New Normal; only you will know when the time is right to make your transition to full retirement.  Luckily, you’ll be informed by your learnings and choices along the way.

This whole process is an easy one to sketch out.  You might not feel like you have time to plan or you may feel like your retirement days are too distant.  But even a short amount of time will help to frame your thoughts about what your retirement will look like.

So go ahead, have some fun and make some waves!

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