In my discussions with my clients, we often talk about what role “work” might play in retirement. While some clients would never consider such a thing, many understand the value that work provides in their lives and they try to incorporate work activities into a balanced retirement.

We all have things that we feel we are better at than other people. Often, we get the opportunity to use our strengths and skills when we are at work. Sometimes those may lead to advancement; other times they just make us feel good about our accomplishments. Our retirement coach Barry LaValley feels that if this is the case for you, then it is important to identify just what those strengths and transferable skills are so that you can find ways to use them in your retirement.

He says that you should consider how the roles or functions of work have benefited you, and then explore activities and functions that you could substitute when “work” is no longer part of your experience. Here are some of the roles that work actually plays in our lives and some ways that you can incorporate it into your life.

Financial Stability

Review your financial plan for this next phase of life and reconcile it with the life that you choose to live. Are you aware of the pension benefits that your company may have? Talk to your human resources professional at work or your financial advisor to discuss the options available to you. If you are a member of a stock option plan or you own company stock, make sure that you let your advisor know. With this information in hand, he or she will gain a more accurate picture of your total financial situation and can provide you with appropriate advice.

Have you set aside enough money to enjoy your life or will you continually be concerned about whether you “have enough” for the future? You may want to consider ways to take a “graduated” retirement by job-sharing or working part-time if money is an issue.

The Society for Human Resource Management found that 25 percent of companies have developed strategies for older workers to work in new ways, including reduced hours. And, another 24 percent of companies plan to develop this type of working arrangement to accommodate seniors in the future.

One of the reasons that people look to retirement is that chronic conditions make it harder to work. However, there is also a large group of Americans who have chosen to continue their work despite physical limitations.

Time Management & Structure

Successful retirees normally try to add some elements of structure to their lives that once existed in their workplace. Don’t shy away from commitments or obligations. Go ahead! Create plans and develop short-term goals and strategies to achieve them.

Utility & Value

If you have a need to “be needed,” your retirement is a great time to volunteer in your community or to take on part-time work where your efforts will be appreciated by someone else. Charities and other non-profit organizations are always on the lookout for people to contribute their time and energy. Pick an organization that is in keeping with your values and then find out how you can help in ways that fit with your skills and desires.


If your work is the source of your social life, try to expand your friendships outside of the workplace. This is a good opportunity to get involved with other organizations tomeet people and form new relationships. Also, make sure that you put in extra effort to transfer your significant work friendships to your new life.

Often it is assumed that work friendships will automatically survive retirement. When people get busy with their lives, however, it is too easy for these valuable friendships to slip away—more from lack of attention than from a lack of desire.


If your sense of self-worth is enhanced because of your job, try to find ways to take on roles in your retirement that will continue to provide you with the reinforcement you need. Many retired executives volunteer with not-for-profit organizations, or involve themselves in fundraising or political campaigns, or sit on corporate boards or community committees. Replacing the status gained from the workplace is perhaps the toughest obstacle to overcome for many high-powered executives. The solution is to identify the need for status as an issue and then to use the time remaining until retirement to redefine yourself in a way that allows you to transition into retirement without longing for the position that you no longer hold.

Forward Progress

Get a jump on a new career by going back to school—either part-time or full time. You won’t be alone! According to the U.S. Department of Education, more than 125,000 people 50 years old and over are attending colleges to gain graduate degrees.

The ability to learn is not related to how young you are. In fact, you may find yourself feeling reenergized by the challenges and opportunities that open up on campus. There are many stories of the fifty-plus sophomore reveling in the idealism of his or her twenty-something classmates.

What Are Your Strengths and Transferable Skills?

It is so easy to think of the negative aspects of your work and forget the things that you liked to do when you were there! We all have things that we feel we do better than most and often we can exercise those skills in the workplace.

As you move into your retirement, consider those skills that you applied to work and that would often brighten your day or give you satisfaction because you felt that you were contributing something of yourself. These are transferable to your retirement and can provide you with ideas on

  • New full or part-time employment
  • Teaching or consulting opportunities
  • Hobbies
  • Personal education
  • Coaching, mentoring
  • Taking Work Into Retirement

Companies such as Marriott Hotels, Disney and Wal-Mart have programs to hire older workers to replace the twenty-something staff that uses service jobs as a “stepping stone” to another career.

A generation ago it could be said that there was no room for the older worker in the workforce. Today, many corporations are concerned about losing their most experienced employees to retirement and are actively working on ways to allow them to stay involved in a way that best suits the employee. And, as baby boomers age and the generations behind them don’t have the numbers to fill the needed jobs in the workforce, it is likely that companies will become more creative about finding ways to keep older boomers in the workforce.

Let’s talk about this next time you come in to visit!

Joseph F. Falbo, CFP®, AIF®, CRC® is an independent LPL financial advisor that helps grow and preserve clients’ wealth using cutting edge, customized, and comprehensive strategies. With over two decades of experience, Joe helps clients to pursue and retain the lifestyle they want in retirement. To discuss your retirement goals or any financial topic you want, schedule a 20-minute complimentary call. To learn more about Joe, please visit

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual