"Lady Boomers: Thinking About Winding Down (A/K/A Retirement)?" A Tickler for Your “Protirement” Planning

People are of two minds in their perceptions of retirement. Are you one of those who are pondering the emotionally loaded transition to retirement? From our experience, many people are looking forward enthusiastically to the perceived new-found freedom and ease of no or fewer work demands, while others are fearful and anxious about how it will affect them.

The perceived loss of career identity can be disconcerting if you are not clear on three things: your motivation (reason for doing so); what you are moving toward (what you will be doing instead); and finally, what steps you’ll take to reach your goal.

To begin, let’s defer to Covey’s timeless planning principle: Start with the end in mind.

To help you understand the underlying reasons behind the decision to retire and to prepare yourself and others for your transition, answer the following questions. This will enable you to begin to explore and plan for your ideal “protirement.” (Protirement is a term coined by television and radio personality Arthur Godfrey to describe retirement from professional work to pursue activities that are more fulfilling and meaningful to the individual.)

So, use your answers to the questions below as a helpful guide in your planning and transition process.

  1. Why are you considering protirement?

Why are you embarking on this change? What’s your motivation? What do you want to achieve? Is it something you really want or are others influencing you to make this decision?

  1. What does “protirement” look like for you? What specifically do you want do and feel when you have “protired”?

You should explore this important question based on your interests and activities you want to pursue but never had the time to do. Research shows that if it is not a current interest, it is not likely to be something you will want to do in retirement. So, if you do not play golf, do not expect to suddenly take it up.

  1. What’s your ideal timeline to move out of your current role/function?

Will this be a clean cut? Will you work full time until you are completely out? Or, will you use a phased approach? The latter is “wind-down/phase-out” transition plan is ideal for the transition of a successor in your current position.

Keys to consider:

  • If you will have a successor, everyone should know and agree to the plan to replace you.
  • Have you already identified a successor? If so, is she ready to take over? What will it take for that person to be ready? What is a reasonable transition period based on your successor’s level of readiness)?
  • Is a buy-out viable? If so, engage a professional to help you with the legal transaction piece (“classic exit planning”).
  1. What are the key functions you serve in the business?

What are the core skills and knowledge elements respective to each function?

Is there something special, specific, or unique that you bring to the business, such as, I know everyone in town, and they give me business and referrals. My identified successor doesn’t know many people yet, so how does this advantage get transferred to your successor?

  1. What actions and steps should you take to help ready your successor and the organization?

This us based on your role, the size of your organization, and the presence and readiness of others to take over. It includes, for example, communicating with your stakeholders and network about your retirement (or protirement)- the what, why, and when; assessing your successor’s capabilities to perform or augment the functions you performed, and the creation of an action list with a timeline to fill in the gaps identified.

Thinking through these questions will help you and those around you with a more positive and efficient transition. Certainly if a business is involved – it will help preserve continuity in performance and can even reposition the company for growth.