Perhaps you are about to embark on your second or third phase of your life, one where you want your career and retirement to co-exist. You are not ready to enter full retirement – just yet – because of financial reasons or you yearn to follow your passions and do something completely different.

When faced with this type of decision, advance planning helps ease you into the right ratio of career and retirement. Just as dancing the tango, the chemistry of the dance partners influences how well the dance is executed. Your blend or tango of career and retirement is dependent on each circumstance.

Here are some things you may want to think about when planning for your next phase of life.

What new career do you want? What’s important to you?

Often the hardest question you face is defining what you want to do next. There is a good chance you have interests or are competent at a number of things. Broadly name things you like to do and narrow your list down. Eliminate the choices that require changes you are not willing to make.

Ultimately, the more focused you are on what to do; the easier it will be to execute your plan.

How do you figure out what career choice is best?

Let’s say you have developed a list of career options. Once you have your career list, it’s time to apply filters to the list to decide what career choices stay.

In this case, a filter is a question that may knock that career choice off the list because it requires you to do something or may not offer something that you need during your career and retirement tango. Some filters or questions you may ask are:

  • Are you willing to move?
  • Do you need more education or professional certification?
  • Do you have the time and resources?
  • How many hours a week do you want to work?
  • Are you willing to travel?
  • Are you flexible?
  • Do you want to work for yourself or another company?
  • Do you need to generate a specific income?
  • Are benefits necessary?
  • What level of stress do you want in your career?

Once you have identified what you want to do; develop a plan on how to do it.

State your purpose or strategy for developing a new career that fits into your retirement plans.

Think about the possibilities of why you want a new career or why it is important not to enter into full retirement. Define your purpose and reason for making this career decision. Does your new career have to align with what you are doing? Do you want to branch out and do something completely different? Is there a hobby that you love that could be monetized?

This is the ideal time to explore different careers. When people get stuck, I use the Strong Interest Inventory to help find those areas of interest. The assessment provides data that opens up possible careers that you may not be considering.

Who do I include in my career and retirement decisions?

If you have a spouse or significant other, the choices you make will impact your quality of life. It’s important to discuss what dreams and aspirations you both have for this phase of your life.

Do you agree on the balance of career and retirement? Will traveling get in the way of accomplishing either goal? How will the family support your decision, especially if finances are impacted?

Consider writing down your thoughts to these questions separately and then sharing your answers. This technique will open up the dialogue and identifies the issues where further discussion and compromise is necessary.

Ultimately, the decisions you make will affect how well your career and retirement tango is received.