Late career planning

Late career is different for everyone.

Some folks start speeding up, maybe after a period of looking after children or elders; some people are slowing down having achieved what they wanted from work; others find they need to shift gears due to health or external factors; while others realise their priorities have changed, and they make choices based on what they want to do (instead of what they have to do).

Wherever you’re at, it can be useful to take stock and consider what matters to you in your late career. What do you want this part of your life to be about?

Your career is so much more than just the work you get paid for. A key component of late career navigation is being involved in a range of different activities. This might include hobbies, projects, paid work, family, sport, volunteering or social clubs. Branching out helps to naviage late career (and life in general) because it can build social networks, keep you active and engaged, and create a bridge into retirement.

And importanty, it can act as a buffer: when change happens in one area of your life – you have other things to turn to and ‘lean on’. 

Take Gary for example.* He’s 63 and has been driving for a medium-size bus company for almost a decade. He enjoys his job and gets a lot of satisfaction from it. But he wants to retire in a couple of years (or perhaps his wife wants him to retire…), and he’s a bit worried. He doesn’t know how he’ll fill his days when he leaves paid work. Instead of figuring it all out when he retires, Gary can start getting ready now by thinking what kind of life he want now and when he retires. Some good questions he could ask himself are:

  • What will I miss about work when I retire?
  • What do I enjoy doing?
  • What am I good at?
  • What do I want to be remembered for?
  • What’s on my bucket list (or what do I wish I could do while I’m still fit and able)?
  • What do I need to do to stay (or become) mentally and physically healthy? 

This idea is closely related to the ‘100-year life’ Gratton and Scott wrote about. Now that most of us are living longer lives, the expectation of working until 65 and then retiring is becoming less relevant and desirable. Our longer lives mean we have a lot more freedom to try different things, including different ways of working. And older workers and retirees are healthier and more active than ever before.

The key to navigating late career is to think about what you want and plan for it. There is no right way to do this and it will look different for every person. What’s something you want to try as you plan your late career?

Register at the AWR website for our guide to late career.

* We met Gary at one of the AWR Project focus groups, but have changed his name.