Contemplating Early Retirement? Try a Career Change Instead

Career Change

A generation ago, many workers’ retirement plans involved moving to a perpetually sunny state and saying goodbye to the 9-to-5 routine.

These days, more than three-quarters of those age 50 and older say their retirement plans include some paid employment. The reasons vary - some foresee still needing money and others want to make sure they have health insurance.

A sizeable chunk, though, want to keep working because they know they still can contribute to society. They just want to do it in different ways.

Early retirees can pursue dreams

Those who are able to earn full pensions at relatively young ages are most likely to fall into that third category.

Military personnel can retire after 20 years of service, and many do. For enlisted personnel, that can be as young as 37 while officers usually hit 20 years around age 42. The system has been the subject of controversy, but it remains in place.

Many federal employees can retire at relatively young ages, too, drawing partial benefits beginning at age 55. The same applies for many state government workers as well as educators, both of whom often can retire after reaching 30 years’ service. Though such retirement plans aren’t as common these days in the private sector, some do still exist.

For workers in those situations, the safety net of the pension relieves financial pressures and allows them to pursue careers that revolve around their dreams, hobbies, or interests.

Freedom from your old job

In other situations, the early retirement might be unplanned because of health problems or a layoff due to a company downsizing.

There’s a silver lining here as well. Those who retire involuntarily still will have some financial resources available while they explore new career options. Once the initial shock has passed, they’re often relieved to be rid of stressful or boring jobs and free to pursue new opportunities.

Taking the next step

Whether the early retirement is voluntary or forced the key question becomes, where to go next?

For many, teaching is a great way to share their knowledge with a new generation. Education as a second career also offers the advantage of summer vacations. Serving as an adjunct professor or instructor allows even more scheduling freedom.

Other retirees find rewards in the non-profit sector. They love the chance to apply skills they’ve honed for 20 or 30 years in a way that benefits society as a whole.

Still other retirees turn to an entrepreneurial second career. Starting a business connected to their old industry lets them get off the ground quickly, while building an enterprise around a hobby or interest can rekindle the passion for work.

Early retirees who choose to strike out on their own often find that they need additional training in areas such as marketing or finance that they never had to consider before. A business education program at an online university lets them fill knowledge gaps even as they get their new enterprise up and running.

For many workers today, retirement is not an end as much as it is a second act. It’s an opportunity to move on to an exciting new career with financial as well as emotional rewards.

Written by Ashford University staff

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