Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

Navigating Milestones: What's Next for Boomers?

Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

Navigating Milestones: What's Next for Boomers?

Article excerpt


Retirement! What does it mean in 2006? Slowing down? Putting your feet up? Many people and organizations are now beginning to explore this topic with great interest. What does it mean now to plan for retirement and beyond? We are learning that society's definition of retirement no longer works.

Because of the abundant choices now available, people that I have met in my career transition practice, ranging from their 40s through the 60s, are thinking about their next steps with a much broader perspective than ever before. Some already have ideas that they wish to pursue, others are looking for those answers. In all, I have found that redefining individual purpose has been the key element in and most important element of the equation for creating a successful transition. What is my purpose now? For many, it can be a daunting question. In our work together, we have struggled for new words to define this next stage. Activity for most will change dramatically but it will not necessarily diminish. Initially, the three most urgent factors to review with a client are finances, family stage and partner status. Once the urgent factors are defined and resolved, the client focus can then shift to exploring and choosing activities, and redefining purpose.


The state of finances provides a realistic picture of lifestyle choices from this point forward. For the purpose of this article, we will assume three exercises: the search for income replacement, for the identification of income supplementation, or validity that the client's income is stable. Finances for healthcare are almost always underestimated so a heavy focus on this area provides an additional element of security for the client once designs and plans for resolutions are identified. Additionally, encouraging our clients to review their finances with a professional is standard practice.

Family Stage

Throughout the stages of life, we will find that our needs, values and activities will dramatically change. When we graduate from college for instance, we find free time to pursue career, make new friends and expand our career options with time-consuming learning. Once we settle into relationships and/or family, our needs again change. The family stage of each and every client needs to be realistically recognized and can often provide the structure from which each individual must work. Fortunately, for those nearing "empty nest" or retirement, some newfound freedoms can provide surprising options.

Spouse and Family

The third critical factor is the support of the significant other. A perceived change in status can be an issue for either the individual or their spouse. Status can be how the client and their spouse define relating to family and community which often involves answering the question, "What do you do for a living?" Frequently, the client and their spouse will need to renegotiate spending patterns as they relate to their social status. Often there is an adjustment between spouses about the amount of time they spend at home until they find the right balance on their current and new activities.

Cooling-off Period

Whether the client originally recognizes the need or not, most express a need to decompress. It is often described by the client as / really need a break or / could just sleep for a month.

This need to move away from unwanted stressors and assimilate into their new life is healthy and often provides the client the time to begin to re-energize. Clients often get involved in family matters and that large to do list around the home. Time now looms for catching up on health and recreation. I see this in so many clients that, when financially realistic, I encourage them to build it into their process. It seems to be necessary to rejuvenate and get to the point of being rested, open minded and creative in order to fully engage in the new.

I highly encourage clients to begin the assessment process by taking inventory at the beginning of their cooling-off period, as this has proved to reduce their immediate stress of the unknown. …

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