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Are You Ready To Play Musical Chairs In Retirement?

February 12, 2023

Couple getting financial advice from consultant at home

What happens when the music stops at work? How will you feel when the chairs you’ve been marching around for years begin to disappear? You may not realize it, but the childhood game of musical chairs can provide some fresh perspective on retirement.

You may remember the thrill of landing in one of the remaining seats or the agony of being cast out of the game. There’s a significant difference between the two feelings which is why it’s important for people making the transition to make sure they have replacement chairs waiting for them in the wings.

What’s interesting is that the workplace provides a number of constant variables which slowly disappear in retirement. Work provides purpose and identity. It offers social interaction and physical activity, not to mention timelines, goals, reviews, and routine. People march around these factors for years, but then retirement changes the game.

Your life is no longer defined by your role at work…your social interactions can decrease in frequency and value… physical activity may not come as easy or often as before… and you have to develop both a new routine and goals for this next stage.

This is why it’s so important to have a new set of chairs in place that you can march around once you get there. Here are three things to help you find some harmony.

A group of businesspeople sitting in a seminar

Measure & Scale: First, start by taking an inventory of the top five or ten things that work provides for you. Do you enjoy certain tasks, co-workers, or types of projects? Think about the various roles you have been given as well as the strengths that are highlighted in your annual reviews. Each factor can provide an important clue as to what makes you tick at work and may need replacing.

Ensemble: Have you ever tried to move a chair that was connected to several others? Many conference centers have chairs that interlock to make rows, so you can’t just walk up and remove one without some extra work. Apply the same concept to your retirement chairs by looking for ways to combine things that you need to replace in retirement. For example, whenever possible do things in a group format. Whether that means an exercise class or group travel, make the event social.

Skip To A New Beat: At work, you may have marched around a fairly consistent group of people and tasks, and for that time in your life it may have been great. But work may have held you back in some areas of life and or left you wanting more. Therefore, it may be time to step outside of the box and try out some new chairs. That could mean turning a hobby into a business, joining a ukulele performance group, or turning your home into a sanctuary for turtles.

Avoid being thrown into a game of musical chairs in retirement and keep the music playing by finding replacements for the things you value at work and can rely on during your transition… even if that means marching to a different tune.

When it comes to retirement, make sure you avoid being thrown into a game of musical chairs where you can feel cast out and stuck on the sidelines. Instead, keep the music playing, and even up the tempo by finding replacements for the things you value at work and can rely on during your transition, even if that means marching to a different tune.


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