In the past several years, there has been a change in attitudes about retirement from people nearing age 65. With the realities of the current economy and longer lifespans, more senior citizens are choosing to continue working.
Many seniors seemed to keep working at their jobs even if they were unhappy and planned to retire simply because it what they thought they were supposed to do. But that is slowly beginning to change. In fact, a recent study found that 37 percent of Americans plan keep working after retiring from their chosen careers. 44 percent of those polled plan to begin a new career.
"Clients often think they want to get rid of responsibilities, but we're happier when we're needed," says financial advisor Scott Hanson. Hanson has seen more and more seniors change careers after retirement including a manager of a Fortune 500 company who retired at age 55 to teach high school and a telephone company technician who took early retirement to open a gun and ammunition store.
Steve Sunderman spent 40 years working various jobs across the United States and Saudi Arabia but at age 62 he decided to leave the architectural firm he was working for to start his own company, Terrazia PC, an environmental and energy conservation consultancy.
"I've never been afraid of making a move," Sunderman explains . "I could have stayed on, but I wasn't excited anymore. There wasn't enough autonomy," he added. "I wanted more control, more design work and more 'green' projects."
Soon after starting his company, Sunderman received a major contract and five years later, his business is thriving. He has two pieces of advice for other seniors looking to make a career change later in life:
- "Be passionate about what you want to do. I wasn't worried; I was excited.”
- "Be sure you have the expertise and skill. I always had confidence about my ability to succeed. Know your stuff!"
While the thought of finding your dream career in retirement can be exciting, there are also some important facts to consider. For instance, if you’re too young you won’t be able to count on having income from your IRA or Social Security so you’ll need to have a plan in case your new career takes a while to get off the ground. However, you don’t want to wait too long since your health may decline as you age and you may not be able to continue working.
It’s important to carefully plan your finances and consider cash flow, risk tolerance, tax management and Social Security strategies. You may want to meet with a certified financial planner for help.
Nevertheless, after considering all of your options, if you still want to change your career later in life, it may be best to just go for it while your health allows.
Carol McSweeney, decided to retire from her career in special education and school psychology at age 53 and threw herself full time into a new career in art. Nine years later she has as much work as she can handle. Her advice to others may be the most important of all:
"If it's integral to your well-being and who you are, just do it. Every step I took convinced me I needed to stay on this path.”