6 paths of retirement—which is yours?

Happy mature couple riding a scooter in the city on a sunny day

Image: Wavebreak Media Ltd/Bigstock.com

In planning your retirement, which path are you going to follow? In her book, Too Young to be Old, Nancy K Schlossberg says that through her research, ‘I have identified six major paths retirees follow’.

She warns that these paths may not always be straight, people can change paths and pursue their paths in their own unique way. However, the paths she has identified give helpful glimpses into some realities retirees face.

The six paths may also help you understand your approach to retirement and why you think the way you do about retirement.

The six paths are:

1. Continuers

These are people who, in retirement, continue on a similar path—perhaps with modifications—to what they were doing in their working life. Often they stay connected with their former workplace and their former identity ‘while developing on new fronts’.

Schlossberg uses the example of a teacher who says, ‘I continue writing and speaking but no longer teach or work for an organisation. As my daughter said, “The only thing retired about you is your pay cheque”’.

It could be a tradesman who is on call for emergencies with his old boss. Or a business type who is called in to help on occasions.

2. Adventurers

The adventurers are those who see retirement as an opportunity to pursue an unrealised dream or try something new. This could encompass a whole range of things from travel to turning a hobby into a business to volunteering in a third world country to becoming an artist.

3. Easy gliders

Retirees on this path relax and take each day as it comes. There’s no agenda and no pressure. In Schlossberg’s words, they ‘have worked all their lives and decided that retirement is the time to relax’. To them, this ‘makes for a relaxed and rewarding life’.

You may find a businessman on this path who makes golf a key part of his life. There’s little planning beyond special interests and social events.

4. Involved spectators

These are retirees who still care and want to keep up with their former work. ‘They are no longer players’, says Schlossberg, ‘but they receive satisfaction from staying involved’.

They want to stay on their business email newsletter list. They seek to stay up to date with what’s happening, which could include keeping in contact with former workmates.

5. Searchers

Those on the searcher path are looking for their niche. And this could be anyone of us at any point in our retirement. Retirement is not something that is fixed, but fluid and changing.

In fact, we might find ourselves on various paths that, as they play out, lead us to search for a new path. Searchers will experiment with new things, and there will probably be times of trial and error as they experiment.

‘Searchers and adventurers are similar, but not the same’, says Schlossberg. ‘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

‘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’.

Obviously, the couch potato path isn’t healthy, but then neither is long-term indecision.

I suspect that, as one thinking of retirement, you’ll likely find yourself naturally leaning toward one of these six paths. The question for you is, is that the path on which you really want to spend your retirement?

It’s your choice. Nothing is locked in and you can change when you get there. However, knowing the paths can help with your planning.

Bruce Manners: the author of Retirement Ready?, Refusing to Retire, and founder of RetireNotes.com

Category: Lifestyle, Planning

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