Phased Retirement: Gap Year

My past posts have focused on a typical approach to phased retirement. 

It seems funny to even write “typical” since the phased approach is certainly less practiced than retirement-as-we-know-it.

But a lunch conversation with a friend this week made me think about alternative approaches and how they have value and deserve to be considered as well.

My concept of phased retirement has been to wind down work over a period of time. Whether you think of this as “landing the plane” as I discussed in an early post on the topic or a stair-step approach from full employment to retirement – the concept is the same.  Begin to transition out of work and into retirement to better manage the process.

My friend’s approach is more akin to the popular ‘gap year’ that some students take after college to travel and gather experiences before starting their careers.

He wrapped up his full-time work when it just didn’t feel like a good situation after some things had shifted with leadership and direction at his firm.  It was simply a good time to step away…and he was ready.

In the time since then he’s had the opportunity to sample retirement, including decompressing from the corporate work pace and focusing on his health and family.

He was heading out for a long bike ride with his spouse and friends after our lunch.

Obviously, the gap year doesn’t have to be limited to a year.  It may stretch into multiple years or after some time away and some reflection you may hear a calling (or get a call) and decide to reenter the work force.  But it should be on your terms – whether full-time or part-time, as an employee or a contractor.

A phased approach to retirement can be flexible in many ways and may have dips and plateaus along with busy periods working at tasks you enjoy.

Keep an open mind and be ready for hybrid approaches.

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