Phased Retirement: The Retirement Pivot

The concept of a “pivot” has steadily worked its way into our vocabulary since the 2011 introduction of the book, The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries. 

A pivot has been used to describe a variety of things – even the change in agenda for a meeting that’s drifted off course.

But this is no willy-nilly switching of a game plan on a whim.  A pivot in this context is defined as, “…a structured course correction designed to test a new fundamental hypothesis about the product or strategy.”

This more rigorous definition of a pivot can be very useful in an approach to a phased retirement.

One key premise of The Lean Startup is to quickly discover how viable a new product or service will be with customers through actual experience.  This is in contrast to working for months or years on a new idea and then unveiling it to the market in the hope that it’s successful…without any real customers along the way.

A phased retirement is a similar approach.  You have a plan in place for your retirement – and you start to implement it over time.  You “test your hypothesis” about your retirement through actual experience.  Do you really like part-time consulting work?  Do you enjoy that hobby as much as you thought you would?

Given my writing about a gradual retirement, I get some good-natured heat from friends and colleagues when the steps I’m taking in my own career don’t always align with winding down.  But with each decision I have more experience and a better understanding of how and where I want to spend my time.

If your career is a 100-mile journey it’s good to have a complete 100-mile map.  It’s even better to stop after 10 miles, assess your progress and new learnings, and make a “structured course correction” (aka a pivot) if it makes sense.

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