In investment terms, a “glide path” describes how an investment mix changes over time. Typically, the mix becomes more conservative — with fewer stocks and more bonds, for example — as the investor approaches a goal such as retirement.
You can also create a transition to retirement by making gradual changes to your professional and personal life in the months or years before you plan to leave work. Retirement can be a shocking transition, especially if you haven’t put in place ways to replace the structure, sense of purpose and opportunities for socialization that work can bring, says financial coach Saundra Davis, executive director of Sage Financial Solutions, a nonprofit financial education and planning organization in San Francisco.
“People are excited to leave (work), but once they leave they feel this pressure of, ‘How can I define myself?'” Davis says. “‘Am I important now that I’m no longer in the workforce?'”
Davis suggests people start by thinking about what they want in retirement. This could mean visualizing your ideal day: where you live, what you do, who you spend time with. Free tools like YearCompass and Unravel Your Year can help you identify what “sparks joy” for you and what you want most in your life, Davis says. These tools allow you to reflect on your recent past and plan for the future.
“What are the things that called you? What gives you energy? request for an opinion.
Your ideal retirement may come up against obstacles: a lack of money, poor health or the need to take care of someone else, for example. But understanding what you really want from this phase of your life can help you find ways to get what’s most important, she says.
“Just because you might have limitations, physical, emotional, or financial, doesn’t mean it excludes you,” Davis says.
Discuss your retirement vision with your spouse or partner to “see if you’re on the same page,” suggests David John, senior strategic policy adviser for the AARP Public Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. may have different ideas about when to retire, where to live and what they want to do with their time, and these should be discussed before either of you leave work, notes John.
“We tend to assume people agree with us, when we haven’t had a formal discussion about something, and that can turn out to be a mistake,” says John.
WORKING IN YOUR RETIREMENT?
Some employers have phased retirement programs that allow people to reduce part-time work while maintaining a paycheck and benefits. Other companies don’t have formal plans but may be willing to take on an employee who requests it, especially if the worker is high-performing, says Joe Casey, a retirement and executive coach in Princeton, New Jersey, and author of “Win the Retirement Game: How to Outsmart the 9 Forces Trying to Steal Your Joy.”
The phased plans give employers time to search for a successor while allowing workers to retire, says Melissa Shaw, wealth management adviser for financial services firm TIAA in Palo Alto, Calif.
“They have even more freedom to start profiting and planning the next phase,” says Shaw. “It’s a good way to transition.”
If phased retirement isn’t an option, a part-time job or consulting job can help people keep a foothold in the working world while shaping their life after work, Shaw adds.
STAY CONNECTED AND PERFORMING
Loneliness not only diminishes the quality of your days, it can also diminish the quantity. Social isolation and loneliness significantly increase the risk of premature death and are associated with an increased risk of dementia by about 50% as well as higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Many people underestimate the social connections that work provides, Davis says. They also may not foresee how much their social circles may shrink over time as people move away or die. Davis recommends making friends from different generations to counter this trend. Hobbies and volunteering are among the ways to find potential friendships, she says.
But it can also help find friends or mentors among people who have retired, says Shaw. Senior centers, social connection sites like Meetup, and the AARP Foundation’s Connect2Affect service are other ways to find potential social contacts. One of Shaw’s clients reached out to a group of retirees at a gym before he retired, combining his desire to stay active and healthy with an informal support group, Shaw says.
“It’s incredibly valuable to have other people around who have experienced retirement and who can provide support, guidance and ideas,” says Shaw.