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Opinion: Healthy baby boomers rethinking retirement

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Retirement offers people a great opportunity to start something new. In addition, life expectancy trends indicate an increasing number of baby boomers should be prepared for a long life in retirement. While this is good news, it also creates a couple of things to think about:

1. Financial resources may need to extend for a retirement that could last two to three decades or longer.

2. Healthy, vibrant individuals may not be prepared to “shut down” and enter into a traditional retirement.

In light of these dual considerations, it may be time to rethink plans to retire at a traditional age, such as 65. For many, extending work into later life may be necessary to ensure long-term financial security. For others, it may not be a financial necessity as much as a desired lifestyle choice. Those who are healthy and energetic might not be ready to give up on work just yet. What do you do now?

Change career focus
As you enter your late 50s and early 60s, you may be thinking about what’s next in life. High on the list for many is maintaining a sense of purpose. In many cases, continuing to work in some capacity is part of this equation. A number of people view the period approaching and entering retirement from their career as a time to begin a new chapter in their lives.

This may mean reinventing yourself and the role you play as a contributor in the workforce. It requires out-of-the-box thinking to determine the skills you now have that differ from your current work. The range of options at this stage in life may be broader than you think. They include:

• becoming a consultant for your former employers and others with a similar need;

• taking on a part-time role with your current employer, something that gives you more flexibility to pursue other interests;

• pursuing a long-held dream to start a business, possibly in a field completely different from your past; and

• providing your services to benefit organizations and people in a volunteer capacity.

Look for purpose
A developing trend is the desire among many baby boomers to find an occupation that provides an increased sense of purpose in life. If you want to keep working, money may not be the prime motivation. Particularly for those who are more financially secure, the drudgery of the workaday world they may have experienced before can be set aside. Now is a time to seek work that is more engaging and purpose-filled.

Older Americans should not rule out the opportunity to take advantage of their available time to relax as well. Taking time off after spending years dedicated to a career and accumulating wealth is well deserved. It might also give you an opportunity to retool, reconsider your options and determine the best course of action for the next phase of your life.

The idea of reinventing yourself later in life can be a viable option for you. Make sure you have your financial house in order and avoid taking steps that might put your long-term financial security at risk. You’ll want to be certain any choices you make are consistent with your abilities, energy and financial capabilities.

Paula Dougherty is a certified financial planner and private wealth adviser with Ameriprise Financial Services Inc. in Springfield. She can be reached at


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