Just in case you missed it, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared 65 years of age to still be “young”. Frankly, it’s not a surprise. People are living longer.
But it also reminded me that we have to draw a distinction between retirement age for government or company retirement programs and our age for living a retirement lifestyle. As an HR professional, I understand the need for retirement plans to have ages in them. Organizations need that for compliance, consistency, etc. But just because a person qualifies for a retirement benefit at age 65 doesn’t mean they can no longer contribute in the workplace.
This is one of the reasons that the concept of unretirement is so important. Yes, we need to work toward have the security to support ourselves and we need to be conscious of how retirement programs work. But we also need to realize that hitting the age of eligibility for retirement programs should be viewed as a benchmark, not a finality.
Unless of course, you want it to be some sort of “I’m XX years old and now I’m going to retire.” And there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, you can decide that you want to start living the retirement lifestyle when you’re 55 or 50 or even younger. It does mean that you might have to wait a few years before you reach the eligibility age for retirement programs, but that can be okay if you plan and prepare for it.
If you’re going to think of retirement plans and lifestyle as two separate things, here are a few things to keep in mind.
It’s never too soon to start thinking about what you want your retirement lifestyle to look like. Sure, this makes sense in terms of your finances, and those things you want to do (like travel, hobbies, etc.) Buthave you given any thought to an encore career and the skills you might need to start working on now?
Share your plans with family and friends. You don’t need to do this all at the same time but, at some point, you have to tell your family what you’d like to do (and when). They need to buy into this. Especially if they thought your retirement meant you were going to spend more time with them.
Think about how to introduce the subject with your employer. Another conversation you don’t have to have right away, but it does need to happen, is talking with your boss. Your company might be thinking you plan on hanging around longer (or leaving sooner). Open, honest dialogue is necessary for a smooth transition.
As I start to talk with more business professionals about this blog, I’m a little surprised at both the Millennials who are already thinking about their retirement future AND the Boomers who aren’t. While you don’t have to take action right away, it does take some time to develop an opinion on these matters. We all have to develop our own unretirement plan because nobody can do it for us.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby somewhere on 7-Mile Bridge heading to Key West, FL