The thought of retirement can be exciting and create positive expectations. On the other hand, the thought of leaving a mainstream work-life balance can be a scary change.
If you love doing your job every day and cannot imagine your life without work and earning a wage, you do have other options. Why not do something different with this latter phase of life?
Some retirement experts have begun suggesting a “restructuring” instead of “retiring.” When you restructure, you create the lifestyle you want starting as soon as possible instead of focusing on living your ideal life starting at age 65 ½. This is much different than a traditional retirement.
Consider these novel ideas for restructuring your life instead of retiring from it:
1. Give yourself permission to continue working past an arbitrary age
If you strive to continue earning an income into old age, you should work for as long as you like. Over time, if you continue saving money, you may be able to reduce your hours worked in order to make room for other more fulfilling activities. Try to arrange your finances to handle a reduction from 40 to 30 hours weekly in your late 50s or early 60s. As you get older, wind down your weekly hours worked every few years. My dad is approaching 80 and still works 15 hours a week. Not because he needs to, but because he wants to. He says it keeps him young and gives him purpose. I’m not going to argue with that.
● Think about Warren Buffet. He does work that he loves and shows no signs of ever stopping. He could have retired decades ago and lived off his wealth, but he still goes to work every day, just not because he’s forced to.
2. Another option is to change the type of work that you do
Maybe you’ll want to continue bringing in a nominal income, but can work mostly for free running a non-profit entity. As long as you won’t have to spend a significant amount of money on extensive schooling or in depth training, a late stage career change should be very doable.
● If you love the outdoors, consider working for the National Parks Service or a State Park in your state. Many of these parks organizations will pay a basic wage for camp hosts or tour guides who want to live on site and work the front desk, back office, or out on the trail. These can be extremely fulfilling roles for the right person.
3. Embrace lifestyle flexibility
When you get tired of working, scale down. If you become engrossed in something, scale up your hours of work. When you’re bored or ready for a change, don’t hesitate to take on the challenge. Thinking in terms of restructuring allows for this opportunity.
4. It’s okay to not know where you wish to live when you retire
There’s no need to pressure yourself about deciding ahead of time and tying down your golden years to a specific locale. Beforehand, consider taking a 2 week vacation each year to one of the places that you’re considering.
● One year ski in Taos, New Mexico. Then Panama City, Florida for beach fun. Provide yourself with as many living experiences as possible.
● Restructuring your life is a way of thinking about retirement that’s far outside the mainstream box. As you gradually wind down your required working hours, consider spending a month or more at a destination before choosing where to live. Maybe rotate where you live year-round!
Avoid getting hung up on the word, “retirement.” Instead, open your mind to every possibility of what restructuring your life can bring. Create the kind of lifestyle that you seek in your golden years by thinking about the details now.