Retirement Paths to Follow

My Comments: Which of the six paths described by Nancy Schlossberg in the following article will you follow?

Personally, my thoughts are that whichever one seems right for you, it’s helpful to remember the three phases of retirement that I describe. These are the Go-Go years, the Slow-Go years and the No-Go years.

Assuming you live long enough, you are likely to experience all three. The next question to be answered is how long will your money last?

By Nancy K. Schlossberg on April 18, 2017

Regardless of where you are in the retirement planning process, it might be time to think about your future path. Through my research, I have identified six major paths retirees follow.

It is important to note that a path may not always be a straight line. People change paths, combine paths and pursue paths in their own unique way. You can identify yourself by the type of path you choose.

Here are the six major paths retirees follow:

1. Continuers modify their activities while continuing along a similar path. A retired teacher identified as a continuer: “I continue writing and speaking but no longer teach or work for an organization. As my daughter said, ‘The only thing retired about you is your paycheck.’

Continuers maintain their former identity but in a modified way. Mort, a retired museum director, occasionally curates an art show. Larry, a retired roofer, will help out his old firm in an emergency. Continuers stay connected to their former work and their former identities while developing on new fronts.

2. Adventurers see retirement as an opportunity to pursue an unrealized dream or try something new. Jane, a retired teacher, turned her hobby of raising goats into her new life. She bought a small farm and raises angora goats. She is making yarn and selling it at craft fairs.

3. Easy gliders have worked all their lives and decided that retirement is the time to relax. They take each day as it comes.

Sam, a retired bank teller, now plays golf and poker and baby-sits for his grandchildren. For some, the joy of having no agenda and no pressure makes for a relaxed and rewarding life.

4. Involved spectators still care deeply about their previous work. They are no longer players, but they receive satisfaction from staying involved.

For example, Steve, a retired lobbyist is no longer physically able to walk the halls of Congress, but he still follows the news and stays on top of current events.

5. Searchers are retirees who are looking for their niche. At some point, any one of us may be a searcher. We might retire, then adventure into a new path, and then when that has played out, we might search again.

Think of all the times you have asked yourself, “What’s next?” Searchers try out new activities during this trial-and-error period.

Searchers and adventurers are similar, but not the same. Searchers keep looking. Adventurers are actually doing something new and different. The searcher might end up becoming an easy glider, an involved spectator or an adventurer.

6. Retreaters come in two versions. Some step back and disengage from their previous routine, using a moratorium to figure out what is next. Others get depressed and become couch potatoes.

You can ask yourself which path you want to pursue. You can follow any path or a combination of paths.

After a retirement workshop, a woman told me: “When people used to ask me what I was doing now that I am retired, I said fliply, ‘I am not dead yet.’ Now I will say: ‘I am a continuer.’”

Nancy K. Schlossberg is co-president of TransitionWorks, a consulting firm; professor emerita at the College of Education, University of Maryland, College Park and served as president of the National Career Development Association. She is the author of nine books, including “Retire Smart Retire Happy.” Her website is transitionsthroughlife.com.

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