Retirement at Any Age

I realized how much has changed about the way we view careers when a young woman I have been dealing with professionally told me she was leaving her firm to take a “mini-retirement” and move to Portugal for a while. She was feeling burned out after working hard through the pandemic and wanted to take some time to think about her next steps. Though she was not yet 25 years old, she was highly educated, had impressive credentials and experience, and had lived, studied, worked and traveled in several countries on different continents. She knew she had a number of job options and felt no hurry to take one; she wanted some time for herself, to reflect, enjoy life, and plan her next move.

This young woman represents the radical shift that is happening in the traditional career model most of us are familiar with, where retirement happens later in life. In the traditional model, people went to school in their 20s, worked through their 30s, 40s and 50s, then retired in their 60s. But today, careers are becoming choppier and longer, their trajectories less linear and more cyclical. People move in and out of work, alternating periods of employment with “mini-retirements” to explore, study, or do whatever they choose. And rather than trade work for leisure at 65, people in their 60s, 70s and 80s are continuing to work and remain highly productive. Encore careers and entrepreneurial ventures among…

Dealing with uncertainty

Spring is here along with vaccines, and we are starting to lower our masks and re-enter the world. But even with these reasons for hope, we will be facing heightened uncertainty for the foreseeable future. The future is always uncertain, of course, but even the limited stability we knew 14 months ago has been upset and is likely to remain unsteady as we try to build a new meaning for “normal.” Most of us have learned to cope with this uncertainty over the past year; some did better than others. What people may not realize is that older people have been the best at coping.

Studies conducted before and during the pandemic have consistently found that older age (age 50 and up) is associated with better emotional well-being. In discussing these findings, Dr. Laura Carstensen, director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, has noted that “despite ‘grave risks to physical health, uncertainties about contagion and restricted social contacts,’ older adults had less frequent and less intense periods of anxiety, anger, stress, boredom and other negative emotions than younger people.” As we get older, we understand and manage our emotions better, even in times of prolonged stress. We have been through other periods of stress and endured life’s tribulations, and we know that we will eventually come out of this pandemic and move on. We understand that things will be different, and not only that we will find ways to…

Updates: Designing Your Retirement and Celebrating Mentoring Month

Designing Your Retirement

Daydreaming about the future

People usually think of daydreaming as a waste of time, a lazy interlude between periods of “productive” work. This is especially true of professionals who revere rational thinking above all else. But taking a break from work and letting your mind wander freely for a while can benefit your well-being and re-energize your brain. Daydreaming can enhance your creativity, keep you moving forward, build your resilience, and give you hope as you face life’s challenges. Visualizing a desirable future can be valuable at any time, but it is especially worthwhile at the point in your career when you start to think about winding down your practice and wonder what might come next. Daydreaming can help you figure that out.

Most daydreaming is unintentional, as when you find yourself doodling without being aware of it. But it can also be deliberate, as when you close your eyes and try to envision various scenarios for your life after practice. Those scenarios might be realistic or wishful, practical or fanciful; it doesn’t matter. Giving in to your imagination enables you to conjure up new and often dazzling insights, ideas and possibilities.

One place to start expanding your imagination and envisioning future possibilities is my book, Retirement by Design. Named by the Wall Street Journal as one of the best retirement books of 2020, it is a workbook filled with guidance, exercises and tools to help you…