A very common statement I’ve heard from my clients over the years when discussing retirement goes something like this: “I don’t want to just stop working. I would go crazy.”
In many ways, that has become the script over the last several decades when it comes to “living the retirement dream”. People are happiest when they are fulfilling a purpose. There is a reason that The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren has sold more than 34 million copies. For most of us, a life without productive work of some sort falls short of fulfilling that purpose. Sometimes, you don’t need to quit working. In many cases, you just need to do something different.
So how do you do that? Imagine you are taking a long-distance road trip. After driving 70+ miles per hour on the interstate, often for hours, you see the exit for your final destination. You slow down and take the off ramp. Gradually, you go from moving at a high rate of speed to a manageable pace before stopping.
Now, instead imagine that you are hurling down the freeway at 85 miles per hour, then immediately slam the brakes and stop. Both are effective ways of arriving at your destination, but in my experience, one is a less satisfying experience.
Let me share with you two success stories.
After a long career as a corporate executive, one of my clients recently set up his own technology consulting firm after taking time off to rest and recharge. He doesn’t necessarily need the money – but he wants the joy and satisfaction from continuing to work. He wasn’t looking to stop working or even slow down that much. What he wanted was autonomy and control over his time, and therefore, his life. Sometimes, we need to take the off ramp to get on to a new freeway.
Another example is a client in her early 60’s who negotiated a part-time consulting arrangement with her current company. She liked her company, her co-workers and the work she did. But the travel and the daily grind were robbing her of joy, energy and passion. Rather than lose all that experience, her company
asked if they could change her role, time and travel commitments to keep her on. Now she is thriving, and is able to spend more time as a grandma! She was going 80 miles per hour, but now is cruising at 50 miles per hour on the off-ramp. Her goal is to retire fully in two or three more years.
If you are nearing retirement, consider taking the off-ramp. Our modern economy is full of creative ways for people to exit the freeway, offering a pace that allows them to focus on what matters most to them.
Charlie Jordan is a partner and wealth adviser at Brightworth, an Atlanta-based wealth management firm serving high net worth families across the country. “Charlie’s passion for integrating retirement, estate and charitable giving strategies provides his clients with an enhanced clarity and purpose for their wealth..” Outside the office Charlie enjoys golf, running and Florida Gator sports.