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Is Flex-tirement the New Retirement?

Is Flex-tirement the New Retirement?

My father is 66 years old. Over the last forty years, he has worked in both Corporate America and academia, and his identity is closely tied to his job. How could it not be? He has spent the better part of his life commuting from one office to another, and he’s somewhat of a workaholic.

The original plan was for my dad to retire at age 66, but now that it’s here, the idea seems preposterous. He has lost money in the recession, and like many Baby Boomers, the thought of moving down to Florida to play tennis and mah jong all day makes him a little ill. My dad wants and needs to keep working, but he knows a 50 hour a week job is putting his health in jeopardy. What’s a Boomer to do?

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Finding a middle ground

My father’s situation is not unique. As tens of millions of Boomers approach traditional retirement age, organizations must contend with how to downsize valuable employees without completely cutting the cord. Enter the notion of flex-tirement.

Hard as it may be to believe in today’s market, we are actually on the cusp of a demographically-induced labor shortage that will leave organizations with far more green employees than seasoned ones. Smart companies know that it’s wise to use flex-tirement to hold on to experienced employees so they can effectively train and transition the younger generation into leadership roles. In an ideal scenario, a company would allow a fifty or sixty-something employee to keep the same job, which they enjoy and are good at, with reduced hours and pay.

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No longer an ex-president’s benefit

If you think about it, flex-tirement has been available to some types for a while. For former presidents or CEOs, “retirement” often equals plum consulting jobs and advisory board service. But increasingly, such opportunities are presenting themselves to average people too.

Even the government is on board with the idea. Says Camille Tuutti in Federal Computer Week:  “The Obama administration has acknowledged the potential of flexible retention. Its 2013 budget for the Office of Personnel Management included a proposal that would allow eligible employees to reduce their work hours at the end of their careers and receive income partially from a reduced salary and partially from retirement annuity. These employees would be required to mentor others, sharing institutional knowledge and helping with succession planning.”

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Make them want to retain you

So, if you’re a Boomer who wants to continue to work while enjoying some of the benefits of retirement, how should you position yourself? Your first goal is to make sure you are someone worth keeping. This means staying current in your job-specific training and skills and being at the top of your game productivity-wise. It also means going out of your way to showcase your value and results to the higher-ups and getting them to say, “Wow, losing Buddy Boomer is going to be a real problem. Who is going to do Task A, B, and C?”

Boomers who haven’t kept up with technology need to get with the program. You don’t want to be considered irrelevant because you don’t understand how business operates in a highly networked, highly virtual world. In addition, it’s imperative that flex-tirement-minded Boomers retain enthusiasm and passion for the job.  An employer is not likely to offer you a desirable part-time arrangement if they feel your heart and mind are touring a castle somewhere in Europe.

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Finally, be willing to chart the course. Remember that flex-tirement is new territory for many employers, and as such, formal policies and procedures might not yet exist. You should be prepared to use your well-honed negotiation and persuasion skills to obtain a situation that’s right for you.

(Photo credit: Retirement Savings via Shutterstock)

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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