The coronavirus pandemic has forced many older workers to reassess their careers and how they view retirement. Folks who are fortunate enough to be working from home might be coping with a mix of technological hurdles, while also enjoying more family time and more flexible hours. Too many others nearing retirement are facing real financial worries due to reduced income, job loss, and instability in their investment accounts.
Under ideal circumstances, there are three broad choices about how to transition away from your full-time job: phased retirement, full retirement, and continuing to work in retirement. Let’s consider how the pandemic has affected each of these options and which path could be the most fulfilling for you.
- Phased RetirementWorking from home during the pandemic might be giving some workers a small taste of what phased retirement is like. Reducing the hours that you’re in the office can help you ease into a new routine where you’ll be spending most of your time at home. You’ll have some flexibility with your schedule to allow you and your spouse to start experimenting with shared and separate calendars that will let both of you get things done without driving each other crazy.
Moreover, the pandemic has forced all of us to reassess the people, experiences, and goals that mean the most. Phasing into retirement can help you fine-tune your work-life balance as you continue to process how social distancing has affected you professionally and personally.
- Full RetirementThat same spirit of introspection is leading many pre-retirees to think about jumping into full retirement sooner. Perhaps being away from your job is making you realize you’ve become used to doing unfulfilling work for a paycheck that’s not making your life better. If you’ve been putting off retirement, the experience of social distancing might have motivated you to stop waiting and start doing as soon as life gets back to normal.
Social distancing has created a separation between our sense of self and our jobs that some people find a little unnerving. That feeling is very common among new full retirees, even those who are following a long-established plan and retiring wholly on their terms. If you’re leaning towards a full retirement right now, talk to your spouse about how you’d like to reframe your identity and start living a freer and more fulfilling life after work.
- Working in RetirementEven before the coronavirus pandemic, more and more people were choosing to work after retiring. Today’s retirees are healthier and more active. Some are working past 65 because they love what they do. Others transition to part-time jobs that let them explore other interests while still earning a paycheck. Many working retirees also want to top off their retirement and savings accounts while they’re still able so that their nest eggs keep pace with increased life expectancy.
Did the coronavirus pandemic accelerate this trend? While social distancing, many seniors have gained greater proficiency with technologies like Zoom and Slack. Those skills could open up a whole new world of remote jobs, including teaching and consulting positions. Entrepreneurial minds might be looking at the shifting landscape of global business and spotting a new route for starting their own dream companies. Others might be so sick of being cooped up that, when conditions are safe, they’ll seek out part-time jobs as a way to reconnect with their communities.
If retirement is a transition you saw fast approaching at the beginning of the year, consider the ways the coronavirus has affected your thinking. It’s important to listen to yourself and consider all of your options to bring realistic scenarios into focus.