It has now been more two years since the unthinkable, at least for most of us, happened. Our lives were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We cancelled our travel plans, bought face masks and connected with family and friends via Skype, Facetime and Zoom. Indeed, our new normal felt for most of us to be very abnormal. No more parties. No more concerts. No more movies.
Suddenly, many of us felt vulnerable. We lost friends and loved ones to the virus, and we were unable to hug one another in expression of our grief and caring. No one seemed to know how long this new abnormal normal would last. Then, in the summer of 2021, we felt as if we could see the light at the end of this tunnel. It looked like the pandemic might be nearing an end. Many of us chose to get vaccinated. We took off our masks. All of the metrics trended in the right direction.
Then the Delta followed by Omicron variants spread across the land. Booster shots, KN95 masks and new guidelines along with mandates in some parts of the country emerged. So did frustration, impatience, and discontent. Does this sound like you?
For some, retirement planning especially beyond the dollars and cents follow a similar pattern. I have read several stories of individuals who retired upon achieving their financial goals only to discover boredom and dissatisfaction in their new lives, leading them to return to the workplace. Retirement looked good and then it didn’t. Expectations of this life beyond the career turned into unfulfilled dreams.
Are you among those who have become financially ready to retire and, thanks to favorable 401K market determined that there is no better time than the present to leave the workplace? If you are 55 or older, you are not alone. According to Pew Research, more than 50% of adults who are 55 or older are now retired.
Another interesting projection according to Richard Fry’s article published by Pew Research in November 2021, the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) suggests that this increase may be temporary as labor force participation among older adults is projected to grow from 33% in 2020 to 40% in 2030.
As we emerge and relaunch our post-pandemic lives, we face the opportunity to redefine our lives. There are no hard and fast rules to follow. Just as circumstances dictated, we shifted from wearing masks to not wearing masks. Similarly, as our experiences influence our perspectives, we may shift from pursuing previous goals toward pursuing redefined ones. This involves rethinking what is important to us and then redesigning our next route. Just as we needed to shift into and out of pandemic driven actions, many have also had to rethink, redefine and redesign the next avenues to follow. Some of these avenues led back into the workplace and others did not.
As you rethink your next steps, consider whether you are among the retirees who are planning to return to work. Interviews with those who “unretired” illustrate the shift back into the workforce often occurred when the anticipated lifestyle failed to take place. Instead of travelling, many found themselves at home working crossword puzzles and binge-watching shows on TV. More recently, as supply and demand created shortages and inflation, financial realities took hold. As we move closer to again removing our masks, as the labor shortages continue and with more individuals becoming vaccinated and boosted, a return to the workplace may become very appealing.
Perhaps you are amongst those who found themselves “retired” either by design or not and find the very idea of returning to work unappealing. In fact, you may have decided to permanently remain out of the workforce. What has become important for you to address as you look forward to your next 25 or 30 years? Where you live, your relationships, and what you do after that first cup of coffee in the morning impact your mental and emotional wellbeing. In what ways will you redesign your route such that you realize a purposeful and satisfying life?
Rethinking and redefining how you navigate this stage of your life should become as regular as your physical exams and financial checkups whether you are in the workplace or not. This pandemic will end. What you do now and how you approach the coming years will likely require redesigning the routes you take based on new financial realities, your physical, mental and emotional wellness and your continued personal growth. Be prepared to shift several times just as you had to shift several times during the past couple of years. The good news is that you do not need to rethink, redefine and redesign on your own. Consider working with a retirement coach to help you develop strategies for your retirement lifestyle priorities. Align your financial and retirement lifestyle strategies so that your redesigned avenue will lead you to a satisfying lifestyle. Prepare yourself for a ReLaunched Life that can navigate unexpected detours with agility and grace.
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