How to Make a Smooth Transition to Retirement


About the Author

mitch conlon

true Mitch Conlon, CFP®

Regional Director/Partner
Seattle, Washington

Author: Mitch Conlon

The Transition From Work to Retirement

I recently spent time with an old friend of mine—a teacher—who is literally counting the handful of years that remain before he can retire.  Let’s just say he’s not the glide into retirement sort. He would rather be hiking or discovering a new hobby than grinding through an unrewarding job. I suspect that once my friend does retire, he will be one of those folks who never looks back, becoming fully engaged in many things.

Not everyone is built that way. Like my friend, plenty of folks count the years till retirement, yet once they finally get there, they often have a deer-in-the-headlights fear of what comes next. For many of us, the “What’s next?” query turns into prolonged internal debate, which is often followed by a half-hearted re-entrance into the work force.

With baby boomers flocking to retirement in record numbers, you would think that by now, someone would have fashioned a model for smoothly transitioning from work to retirement. But you would be wrong.

Few employers have innovated on this front—they simply don’t offer a structured pathway toward a phased retirement. Instead, pre-retirees are carving their own transition plans bit by bit. Doctors shift to three-day weeks. Executives negotiate increasingly lengthy vacations or take sabbaticals.

Until employers buy in, the most viable approach might be to downsize your work life on your own. Find a less demanding role that keeps you engaged and offers you a meaningful place to go each day. As a recent Morningstar article put it, you need to create your own alternative to “keeping your nose to the grindstone full-time—or even sticking to the same grindstone.”

Instead of trying to plan everything meticulously, be flexible and try a variety of new things to see what motivates you. To get a feel for what the retirement glide path might be like, investigate sites like FlexProfessionals, which connect businesses with part-time skilled workers.


EP Wealth offers financial services for any life transition, even retirement. 

And here are some additional resources suggested by Morningstar:


To find a create a custom plan to guide you into retirement, call an EP Wealth Advisor today.


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