How do you decide it’s time to retire from your work or to reassess how to work in a different way? It takes honest reflection, facing realities of your own life and abilities and often having crucial conversations with people important in your life and work.
Some people reach a point of burn-out; others begin to realize that the demands of work no longer align with their strengths and capacities. Still others are forced out of work because of mergers or downsizing and don’t want to stop working. Are you struggling with this decision? If you’re part of a couple, you may also realize that you and your partner are “out of synch” with each other. You may be different ages, have different energy levels or different health issues. It’s not unusual that women – having perhaps entered the labor force later than their partner – may be in their prime when their partner is ready to wind down. Talking together about your values, goals, interests and needs is extremely important. It’s helpful to establish time frames as you “puzzle” this out.
If work has been your primary identity, you may want to take time to begin to explore other interests so you don’t feel like you’ve lost your identity if you’re no longer working. In addition, work provides a structure for your time and a means for connection, engagement and a sense of purpose and meaning. Think ahead so you can anticipate how to “replace” some of these important needs in your post-work life.
You may decide it’s time to use your skills in another way and want to begin an “encore career.” Marci Alboher, VP of Encore.org. has written a terrific book called The Encore Career Handbook. She offers helpful information about encore careers as well as offers exercises, tips and resources to help in the decision-making process. Some of you may not want to work at all (paid or unpaid) but instead explore other interests. There is no one way. Retiring from work does not mean retiring from life.
The second half of life can be an exciting time if you open yourself to new possibilities.