Thinking about your retirement?  After your first full-time career ends, plans for the future usually start out as a collage of thoughts and dreams collected over the last 30 years. Stay put or move to live near the kids? Make money or volunteer? Spend time with family and friends or explore on your own. Travel? To where and how much can you spend?

Stories, both good and scary, from those who have already retired, are omnipresent as you think about your own retirement. Creating a new identity after 30 years at the same desk isn’t easy. Now it is time to really think about what to do next.

The Key is to Drill Down on What You Really Love to Do

For many boomers, thinking about what they want to do presents a major U-turn into an unfamiliar phase. But this next stage is all about you and what you want to do with your time, money, talent and experience. Here are a few thoughts to help you find clarity in  the process:

  • It’s your retirement. No one is going to make you do anything, except maybe your partner. If you want to watch TV for 40 hours a week or go to medical school, the choice is up to you.
  • Life after your first career is going to last 25-30 years. There will be plenty of time for most things, just not everything at once.
  • It’s OK to try lots of things and to leave if it’s not a good fit. If you take a part-time job and don’t like it, you can just quit. Of course, you want to leave gracefully, but the days when you had to stick it out are over. You have earned the right to a new kind of freedom you have probably never experienced.
  • No one is going to second guess your choices. There are 78 million baby boomers, and there will be 78 million different versions of this life stage. Each one is appropriate.

How to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

  • Think about the times when you really thought work was fun. This is not as strange as it sounds. What were you doing? Who were you doing it with? Why did it work so well?
  • Make a list of the 10 activities that look like the most fun to do over the next five years. Can any of them be done by being a consultant or taking a part-time job? An example might be giving a lecture on a cruise ship so your trip can be free.
  • Make a list of your friends who always seem to be doing interesting things and invite them to lunch to find out more.
  • Do some research. Google an area of interest and see what comes up. Read articles and books about exciting fields. Find people who have made successful and interesting transitions – read their stories and when possible, talk to them.

The critical thought in all this is as Nike says, “Just Do It.” This process of moving on feels much scarier before you begin. Once you get moving, it can be fascinating. You will discover possibilities far beyond the horizon you have been seeing for the past 20 years.


Peter Sherer is a nationally recognized career coach who offers clarity and confidence to mid-career and senior executives in transition. His rigorous assessment tools enable his clients to identify a meaningful assignment that uses all of their skills and experience in just two short days. Learn more and get in touch with Peter today.