Are you planning your next phase of work and life?

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Recently, I’ve been contacted by a number of readers who are either newly retired, facing an early retirement buyout decision or nearing retirement in the the next few months. Some have an idea for a small business and need help with the “how”. Some know what they love but have no idea how it would make any money. Others know they want to do something they enjoy and that makes a difference but they don’t have any idea what that is. They all have one thing in common: they don’t want to retire. They want to stay involved and do something meaningful. They see this as “my time” but that doesn’t mean lazing on a beach. For most it means finding more meaning as they continue to earn. It’s what I call “Inspired UnRetirement”.

There seems to be a syndrome among those who don’t plan for retirement. By plan, I don’t mean IRAs and 401Ks. Many people decide to take the first few weeks or a month and do nothing but relax. They’re tired of having to be somewhere every day for years. It would seem they’d find that time rejuvenating and be ready to dive full-on into the next phase of life. Sadly, that’s seldom what happens.

If you’ve lived with structure your entire adult life and all of a sudden your days are wide open, things that you used to be able to accomplish evenings and weekends suddenly take a lot more time. The first month passes quickly and then another and suddenly, you look back at the end of each day and ask, “What did I do all day?”

There’s a way to avoid this by spending time now, ideally at least a year and a half prior to retirement, actively planning the steps to make the next thirty years rewarding, fulfilling and meaningful. If you’re suddenly laid off or faced with an early retirement option, you may not have time to plan ahead but it’s important to know that you won’t suddenly just “know” your next step unless you do the work and have the support of others who are in a similar position.

Do you have a “someday” dream that you’ve been putting off until retirement? Do you know you want to find more meaning and purpose but not sure what that will look like? I’d love to hear your thoughts on “what’s next”. As always, you’re invited to share in the comments below.

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