In investing terms, a 'glide path' describes how a mix of investments changes over time. Typically, the mix gets more conservative — with fewer stocks and more bonds, for example — as the investor approaches a goal such as retirement.
You also can create a glide path into retirement by making gradual changes in your working life in the months or years before you plan to quit work. Retirement can be a jarring transition, especially if you haven’t set up ways to replace the structure, sense of purpose and socialising opportunities that work can bring, says financial coach Saundra Davis, executive director of a US-based financial education and planning organisation.
“People are excited to leave (work), but then once they leave, they feel that pressure of ‘How do I define myself?’” Davis says. “‘Am I important now that I’m no longer in the workforce?’”
What do you want your retirement life to look like?
Davis suggests people start by thinking about what they want from retirement. That could mean visualising your ideal day: where you’re living, what you’re doing, who you’re spending time with. “What are the things that have been calling you? What gives you energy?” Davis asks.
Your ideal retirement may well face roadblocks: a lack of money, ill health or the need to provide care for someone else, for example. But understanding what you really want from this phase of your life can help you figure out ways to get what’s most important, she says.
“Just because you might have some limitations, either physical or emotional or financial, don’t assume that that counts you out,” Davis says.
What role will work play in your retirement?
Some employers worldwide have phased retirement programs that allow people to cut back to part-time work while retaining a salary and benefits. Other companies don’t have formal plans but may be willing to accommodate an employee who asks, particularly if the worker is a high performer, says Joe Casey, a US-based retirement and executive coach, and the author of “Win the Retirement Game: How to Outsmart the 9 Forces Trying to Steal Your Joy.”
Phased plans give employers time to look for a successor while allowing workers to ease into retirement, says Melissa Shaw, a US-based wealth management adviser for financial services firm. “They still have more freedom to start to enjoy and plan for the next phase,” Shaw says. “It’s a good way to transition.”
If phased retirement isn’t an option, a part-time job or consulting work can help people keep a foot in the work world while they shape their post-work life, Shaw adds.