If you are daunted by the prospect of retiring, it may be time to rethink how you navigate this significant transition. The ‘either-or’ option may well be defunct, with a phased-in retirement allowing you a more gradual transition.
The wonderful and unexpected outcome of my book being on bookstore shelves across the country has been expanding my circle of acquaintances. My message in Retiremeant is that this time of your life is one where you get to make your unfulfilled dreams and goals a reality on your own terms and in your own time – very much a value that Chartered Wealth has espoused since its inception. With new people from all around South Africa sharing their stories with me, a significant theme has emerged: the different dynamics around exiting work. I think the idea is worth sharing.
At Chartered, we encourage clients to consider a phased-in retirement when it comes to work: half in and half out. Today, leaving work doesn’t have to be an either-or. You can, instead, negotiate to retire at a more gradual rate, thereby winding down rather than exiting completely.
The idea is to scale back your hours and responsibilities over a period of months and years. This is not necessarily because you need the income, but often more because continuing work can give you a feeling of autonomy over your life.
Phased retirement allows you to get used to the changes in your life and to try out new activities without cutting yourself off from your former life. The free time now available allows you to try a variety of new activities without the pressure of having no work in your life.
It is important to know that, if you are working in a job and not enjoying it, go ahead and find a way to replace this with work that will give you more enjoyment … but do it in a way that is not all-consuming.
Frazzled, not free!
A potential client called me in a very burnout state. “I just want to do nothing for a few years,” he said. “The work I once loved so much has squeezed all the enjoyment out of my existence, and I feel my life is frantic.” He felt his only option was to retire.
Following many hours of discussion, he decided to hire someone to share his workload, thereby freeing up his time. He needed to discover that others could bring their own skills – he is not the only person who can do everything. The plus is that he can give away tasks that make his job onerous. Of course, for an A-type personality this is not an easy as it sounds!
I am happy to share that he had the right attitude. Having implemented his plan, he now works fewer hours, loves his work again, and finds time to go away with his family. Another exciting development is that he revived his love of playing the violin, a talent dormant since his early twenties.
Had he given up his work completely, I doubt that he would have been happier than he is now, where he has the best of what both worlds have to offer. The less stressful space he is now in allows him to explore where to next. Not being so emotional means he can see what he values and what needs to change.
A second client is approaching the official retirement age of sixty in her company. Her boundless energy and constant stream of new ideas have made simply stopping work not an option. Together with her son, she is opening a business. She has the financial skills and entrepreneurial flair to make this a success. Her flexible hours will enable her to start a parallel life and phase in her retiremeant, while she is still engaged in a meaningful career. She is not only giving her son an opportunity, but also deepening their relationship through mentoring him.
So, keep considering
While the money you earn in a phased-in retirement may be less, the value in drawing from your investment later are substantial. Psychologically, the advantage is it gives you time to set up activities that will come into their own later, once you decide to leave the workplace for good. Work provides much stimulation and helps stave off cognitive decline. Important though is to consider yourself as an individual know what is a good life for you but considering a phased retirement is an option to consider. It is important to take into account how much we all love to add value to others; work, whether we are paid for it or not, is a meaningful way to add value to others.
Don’t miss the article by Chartered client, John Arnesen, who writes of living out this philosophy of a phased-in retiremeant – click here to read it.