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ATD Blog

Retirees Re-Envision Work, Part 2

Monday, July 2, 2018
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The first post in this series focused on comparing past and present retirement expectations, reinventing who you are as a retiree, and reassessing what engages you at work. It concluded with establishing goals for the work you would like to do in the next stage of your life. This post provides the means to integrating work into your retirement lifestyle.

How will working fit into your retirement plans in a way that allows you to achieve your work goals as well as have your chosen lifestyle? Your plans need to be carefully thought out, written down, and reviewed to see how they will dovetail with the blueprint for your new life as a retiree. What are your priorities for retirement? What experiences have you always wanted to have? For example, if retirement activities include visits to family living in other geographic locations, then work can be temporary assignments that require your skills and experience and have a flexible schedule.

Four basic work characteristics to consider are:

1. Time Spent at a Job
Two options exist: full-time and part-time (or flex-time). Factors to examine are financial status, overall view of use of time, and level of family responsibilities. Create a time chart of how a typical week's schedule would look without work. How much time can be allotted to a job?

2. Paid or Volunteer
Do you need to supplement your retirement income or just make a little for “the extras”? Do you want to give back to your community and wish to have some flexibility in time and in what you do?

3. Remain in Same Field or Change Careers
If you would like to continue working, but perhaps in a different direction, this is the time to do some thinking regarding your next steps. Perhaps you love what you do, but would prefer to do it part-time and with a different employer. Or maybe this is the time to make your passion a reality!

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4. Stay in Same Arena or Transfer Skills and Expertise to a New One
Again, you may wish to continue to use your expertise in the same work area, but in an entrepreneurial capacity as a consultant or independent contractor. Or, make a professional shift by taking your experience to a new work locale. For example, earn your doctorate and become engaged in academic life.

To successfully carry out either of the last two points, consider hiring a coach to help you select some self-assessment activities appropriate to your individual work situation and concerns. The resulting information can provide a clearer perspective for your decisions and enable you to develop a plan of action. A coach can play a supportive and encouraging role.

How do you re-envision the work that you wish to engage in during your retirement years?

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Meaningful and Purposeful Work
You should feel that your time and effort are spent doing something that makes a difference, even in a small way. Tasks are positive and progress toward predetermined goals. However, as you build up a variety of life experiences, perspectives of these qualities change. How would you define “meaningful and purposeful work” as a retiree?

Enjoyable and Satisfying Work
Fulfilling work has the above two qualities plus the sense of loving what you do—it truly engages you. You are involved in work that revolves around your passion. It is the willingness to go beyond what your supervisor expects. How would you define “enjoyable and satisfying work” as a retiree?

Ideal Work Situation
Review your work goals and create the ideal job to achieve them. Be as specific as possible in the details. Consider: What would you be doing and in what capacity? Who would you serve? What type of work environment would you like to be in (organization culture, size, and mission)? Would you volunteer or be compensated? What would be the scope of your work—for example, by yourself, in teams, with groups?

Create a Transition Action Plan to Re-Envision a New Work Life and Style
A transition interval helps to bring closure to a former situation, allowing you to reflect, re-energize, and adapt to the new one. An action plan enables a successful initiation of desired work activities and their integration into a retirement lifestyle.

Whether you first move into a semi-retirement phase or immediately begin full retirement, you will need to make some basic decisions about work and your individualized new vision of its place in this stage of your life.

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About the Author

Annabelle Reitman has more than 40 years of experience in career coaching and counseling, specializing in résumé development that targets clients’ individualized professional stories. She also does short-term coaching for people in work transitions, enabling them to successfully continue their career journey. Reitman is an established writer and author in the career and talent management arenas. She is a co-author of ATD's Career Moves (2013) and contributed the Take charge of Your Career: Breaking Into & Advancing in the T&D Profession Chapter to the  ASTD Handbook, 2nd edition (2014). Reitman holds doctorate and master’s degrees in higher education administration from Teachers College, Columbia University.

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