Start a Strategic Plan for ‘Working Retirement’

By Jerry Osteryoung, Feb. 2, 2017, “Helping Small Businesses”

Retiring is not a subject people normally discuss over dinner. It is particularly difficult for entrepreneurs and executives, many of whom do not accept the notion that their organizations can exist without them. This is because, in their minds, the fact that their organizations can do without them means their contributions must not have been significant. If they stay in the business and do not retire, however, they feel their value cannot be questioned.

I have heard many entrepreneurs say they are reluctant to retire and let their children take over because their kids just do not have the requisite experience. Of course, what they really fear is that if they leave, they will no longer be important.

In my experience, it is a small group of folks who are able to retire from their businesses, walk away without looking back or having any regrets and enjoy a prosperous retirement. Unfortunately, they are less than 5 percent of the cases I have seen. People who struggle with the retirement process fall into two groups.

First, there are those who retire with no planning or thought and expect to have a magnificent retirement. Then there are those who are fearful of retirement and do everything they can to not only avoid talking about it, but also avoid starting it. A “working retirement” is the solution for both these groups.

When we are working, we are producing something of value, but working in your company is not the only way to contribute. It has taken me a long time to figure this out, but I really believe if you approach retirement like any other challenge you face running your business, you can deal with just about anything.

When I say “working retirement” I mean you work at retirement the same way you worked at your job or vocation. You must develop a plan of the things you want to do when you retire, and there are a few things I believe are key to retiring well. Firstly, I recommend doing something to help others in retirement. Contributing something of value to someone else really makes you feel good. I can personally attest to how fulfilling that is.

I have been teaching a course about starting a business at Gadsden Correctional Facility for about six years now. These women are so appreciative of the knowledge I am sharing with them that it makes me feel great to do it. A second critical element your working retirement should include is doing something for your body to ensure you stay healthy. From walking to climbing mountains, there are so many ways to do this.

Team activities – ensuring you have plenty of social interaction – are also important in a working retirement. When you retire, you lose those working relationships that were such a big part of your daily life. It is vital your retirement plan includes interactions with people. For me, getting out with friends and walking in nature are so uplifting for many different reasons.

Finally, it is vital in a working retirement that you find a way to continue doing some work in your area of expertise. Not everyone will be able to do this, but if you can, it will give you a sense of worth – and some money too. Most importantly, it will show you that you still have value.

When you boil it down, I think planning for retirement is just like running your organization in that you need to have goals and objectives and strategies for accomplishing them. Essentially, you need a strategic plan for retirement. Now go out and start considering your “working retirement” plan. You can do this!

To Your Successful Retirement!

Michael Ginsberg, JD, CFP®

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