Downshifting into retirement.

According to a recent research report (January 2007) produced by a financial services company in the USA, 60% of Americans are planning a gradual transition into retirement by downshifting into part time employment or a less demanding full time job.  A simple google search reveals that similar trends are also being reported in Europe, Australasia and Japan. Some are choosing this route of voluntary simplicity in order to reap the benefits of a downshifted lifestyle, while others feel forced into downshifting rather than complete retirement due to adverse financial circumstances.

You may already be well aware of the many benefits of downshifting in terms of stress reduction and improved quality of life. What if downshifting fills you with dread because you were looking forward to stopping work altogether and now you find you will have to carry on earning for a while?

Did you have other plans?

Maybe you’re in a job you love and you can simply reduce your weekly working hours as you near retirement. If you’re in a job that you are desperate to leave then just switching to part-time working is unlikely to fill you with enthusiasm. Now could be a good time to consider other, more enjoyable and fulfilling options. It will probably help you to look for the positives in your situation. Keeping active, having a fulfilling vocation and focus can help to keep you young and healthy. Perhaps this is your chance to work at a less stressful, more meaningful job, maybe hobby related? What would you be doing with your time if you knew you didn’t have to earn money? How can you turn that into an income generator?

Are you fit for work?

Perhaps you were looking forward to total retirement because you have an ongoing health problem and you believe that continued work will aggravate your condition. This is where it’s even more important to use this opportunity as a way to reduce the stress in your working life. In what way does your current job threaten your health? If reducing your working hours alone will not be sufficient to alleviate this negative effect on your health, in what ways would your job need to be different in order for it to benefit your health?

Are you ready to slow down?

Perhaps your drive and ambition are changing; you had envisaged that stopping work would enable you to slow down and lead a more leisurely, simple existence. If this is you, then you’re not alone. Many people imagine that that they will have to wait until retirement before they can have more leisure time. Then, when full retirement is delayed for some reason, they assume that the new, more enjoyable way of life will have to be put on hold too. Yet most people can achieve this simpler, less stressful form of existence at any time in their working lives simply by reassessing their goals in life and what’s important to them. If you don’t believe me, then do make a point of reading the guest articles that appear in the newsletter each month as they are inspiring examples of real life downshifting stories.

The good news is that it is possible to do both i.e. slow down and simplify one’s life, whilst at the same time earning a living. This is what downshifting is all about.

Are you worried by financial difficulties?

The prospect of living longer and not being able to cover medical expenses, fuel bills, home maintenance costs etc is a serious one.

If you are seeking an alternative to your current employment in order to downshift, where are you going to look?

Talk to others, whoever you can think of who will be knowledgeable in the arena in which you would prefer to work and stay open to unusual opportunities emerging. It is worth searching on the internet too. Employers and Government agencies are wising up to the fact that a combination of an ageing demographic with ageist practices could deprive companies of a wealth of talent, experience and insight, so they are keen to persuade companies of the benefits of recruiting mature employees.

What about opportunities for self-employment doing what you most love to do? If being self-employed does not appeal to you because you do not want to shoulder that level of responsibility, are there friends who you could team up with to run a joint venture? Maybe you could create a business that would be worth selling in 5-10 years’ time and that would provide a supplement to your current pension or other financial provision for retirement.

Whatever situation you are starting from when you consider downshifting into retirement, the key to a happy, simpler and low stress lifestyle will be in giving yourself time to re-evaluate your priorities in all areas of your life and to act in accordance with them.

If you’d like to discuss how coaching can help you downshift into retirement, contact me to arrange a no-obligation, exploratory telephone conversation.