Climbing toward retirement: How do you know when you’re ready to attack the summit?

Posted On April 26, 2018

Many of us think of the years after 40 as all downhill. But Jeanne Thompson, head of Workplace Solutions Thought Leadership at Fidelity Investments, looks at them as an uphill climb – with retirement as the summit.

Thompson, our guest for this episode of “What’s Working with Cam Marston,”sees three different phases of retirement: climbing, base camp and the summit. And she says research commissioned by Fidelity shows that the factors that drive our decisions about retirement and preparing for it and largely dictated by where we are on this expedition.

Those in the climbing stage are 10 or more years away from retirement. They still have dependents at home or in college, a mortgage and other debt. Their financial situation outweighs all other factors.

Those at the base camp are two to nine years away from retirement. They are reducing debt, and feeling better about finances. They may still happy with their job, but they’re not looking for new opportunities. Their stamina isn’t what it used to be, and they might be looking for more time to pursue hobbies or personal interests.

Those at the summit are ready to retire. While many are forced into it through downsizing in today’s economy, those who are fortunate enough to make the decision for themselves typically take such things as pension and Medicare eligibility into account, along with whether they’ve reached their savings goals.

Other triggers are largely dependent upon gender, Thompson says. While men often say they’re ready to spend more time with their wives, more women want to see the grandkids.

As one acquaintance of Thompson was told by his wife: “I married you for dinner, not for lunch.”

But how do you know when you’re ready? How do you transition from a career, particularly if it’s one in which you have come to define yourself, into a vague, ill-defined retirement? OK, so you’d like to travel. But what happens when you come home?

Thompson shares a few things that those still on the climb toward retirement should start thinking about in order to ease the transition – and a few things their employers can do to encourage that conversation.

Join us for an enlightening discussion.

Categories: Podcast, Retirement