“In my early 40s, I started thinking about retiring early. I sat through my organization’s mid-career retirement classes and had gotten several retirement estimates (i.e., different retirement years). I had kept myself marketable by continuing to take advantage of career opportunities and obtaining additional education in my professional field. Some co-workers mocked me because they said any scholarly education would not advance my career.
Yet, I felt that professional growth and a continual learning mindset would only increase my value in the market. I had developed an exit strategy. Working with my friend (Dr. Gary Roberts), I had mapped out a future purpose in academia. However, things did not work out as planned. In fact, it took 9 years and more than 200 job applications for the exit strategy to work. Having an exit strategy was invaluable!”
Are you happy with your current job? Are you working in a job and the environment that you hate and bring you hate? If so, let 2020 be different. In general, US employees are satisfied with their work-life. According to a 2016 Pew Research Center study, about half (49%) of American workers say they are very satisfied with their current job.
Yet, 30% of them are somewhat satisfied, and the remainder says they are slightly dissatisfied (9%) or very dissatisfied (6%). When individuals are not happy at work, this mindset impacts other aspects of their lives. When I wrote my own ‘soul searching’ book, Mapping Out Life After Retirement, I hope to assist prospective and current retirees on how to have a more fulfilled life. This article discusses how individuals can retire early with the right kind of strategy.
Retiring early is a difficult task in today’s financial requirements for living. In 2016, I retired from my career of 27 years at the age of 50 years old. To retire early is indeed a blessing from God. However, I had planned my exit strategy for several years. Yet, millions of Boomers may not be physically and mentally ready for retirement savings today to retire. In the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) survey, “Boomers Expectations for Retirement 2016, there are some startling statistics that will clarify some of the challenges for a Baby Boomer retirement:
- The percentage of Baby Boomers who are satisfied with how their lives are going from an economic perspective has fallen to 43%, which is the lowest level since 2011.
- Boomers are less confident than they were five years ago about almost every aspect of retirement.
- Among the 55% of Boomers with retirement savings, 58% have saved $100,000 or more for retirement. When Boomers work with financial advisors, this increases to 78%.
- Only one in four Boomers expect significant income from an employer-provided pension.
- One in five Boomers are worried they will not have enough savings for necessary expenses.
Some individuals do not want to sit at home after retirement. Other people want to explore their vocation. To these people, I will provide a new term for them; ‘rebooting.’ In the computer/software world, rebooting is a normal function, unlike retiring. Rebooting is defined as “starting a computer a second or a third time, often necessary after a system crash or malfunction.”
In the career planning space, I define rebooting ‘as an individual who has retired and decided to continue working. In this line of thinking, an individual may move away from his/her past career path and pivot to a totally different occupation of vocation. This situation is feasible. Most individuals, especially Boomers or GenXers, are in careers that they hate only because of the necessity of income.
As the statistics have shown, there are many reasons why many folks will not retire anytime soon due to the current economic conditions and their lack of serious planning. In this case, retiring early will take a different strategy to be successful. Thus, sitting down and mapping out a personal exit strategy for retirement is critical. Based on my exit strategy that I utilized in my retirement, below are some simple suggestions for developing your exit strategy for retirement:
- Talk with retirees about the pros and cons of retirement.
- Establish objectives/goals for retirement.
- Pick a realistic date for retirement.
- Evaluate current financial and lifestyle situation.
- Research materials on retirement.
- Take company/organization-sponsored retirement courses.
- Talk with several financial planners about your personal goals.
- Come up with a magical number that makes retirement possible.
- Talk with trusted family and friends about exit strategy on retirement.
- Surround yourself with individuals who will support your decision, but are willing to give you honest, candid feedback.
- Develop and implement your exit strategy once developed.
- Know your worth in the market (especially in job hunting).
- Be happy and content with your decision! I’ve met people who habitually second-guess themselves in every decision that they make.
Without a good exit strategy, retiring early will be a fairy tale and not a reality for many people.
This article showed how individuals can retire early with the right kind of strategy. Some working professionals rely on the fact that they have significant incomes. Yet, they live miserable lives in the process. Thus, these individuals dream about retirement as a way of living a more filled life. What is holding you back in your retirement plans? Let’s get started!
© 2020 by Dr. Daryl D. Green
About Dr. Daryl Green:
Dr. Daryl Green provides consulting, guidance, and management training for today’s business leaders. He is the Dickinson Chair at Oklahoma Baptist University. In 2016, he retired as a Senior Engineer and Program Manager with the Department of Energy after a successful career. He is the author of Mapping Out Life After Retirement. Dr. Green has over 25 years of management experience and has been noted and quoted by USA Today, Ebony Magazine, and Associated Press. For more information, please visit http://www.darylgreen.org.