How do you feel about Retirement

Initial Survey Results

As you may remember, I sent out a survey last week asking several questions about retirement. What motivated me to send out this survey was the results of some research out of MIT AgeLab and an article written in Forbes magazine by Dr. Joseph Coughlin. They concluded that men see retirement as a destination, women see retirement as a journey. In other words, men see retirement as endless days of leisure and women view retirement as an opportunity to try new things, learn, be involved.

This idea did not sit right with me. I meet men and women who want to continue living and learning and making a difference well into their 80’s and even 90’s. Maybe it is more a matter of timing. Maybe some men initially want to relax, not make specific plans. Eventually, at least in my experience, this gets boring and they begin to want more in their lives. The challenge they face is not knowing where to start to find that “something more.” Without the definition their careers gave them, many men do not have any idea of who or what they want to be.

Women on the other hand, have been more involved in social relationships outside of work, and so their interests and support systems are typically better developed.

At least that is my speculation. So here is what I want to do. I will share the top level results with you in this blog. The survey is still open so you can continue to add your answers. I am also scheduling follow up calls with several of the people who have responded to dig deeper into their responses. A survey can only tell us so much, a conversation can uncover more.

Once I complete the follow up conversations, I will also report out on what I learned. The survey results are continuing to come in.  This is what I have learned so far.

57% of the respondents said they had already left their jobs and had successfully transitioned.

32% said they were completely confident or somewhat confident that they know what they will do when they do leave their work.

Almost all respondents had ideas for things they wanted to do to stay engaged when they retire.

81% of respondents said they wanted to contribute to their communities.

75% said they wanted to do some traveling.

63% indicated they wanted to be involved in volunteer work.

55% were looking to engage in creative pursuits.

A few people indicated they did not see themselves retiring. They wanted to continue to work part-time, talked about reinventing and starting a new business.

The top 2 answers to the question, “When I retire it will be (or is) important to me:

50% to still feel useful and relevant.

25% to continue to learn and challenge myself.

Only 2% said they wanted to retire and do nothing.

Eighty-four percent (84%) said they strongly agreed or somewhat agreed that learning how others have managed their transition from work to what is next is helpful.

Believing that they have the ability to chose what will be next for them, excites 84% of all respondents, and 84% of respondents felt they had the necessary support network to navigate their transition.

Regarding the question; A recent report from MIT Age Lab found that men view retirement as being more about leisure. Women viewed retirement as finally being “time for me,” and indicated more interest in a variety of endeavors. In your experience, do you agree or disagree with this conclusion?

77% agreed with this statement, with caveats.

Some of the comments I got to this question were:

“There are some men who are making a larger contribution so it’s not all men who want leisure.”

“I somewhat agree. I generally find it difficult to put all men or women into one category.”

“It is true for me, as a woman, but I don’t want to generalize from just my own experience.”

“In my experience, men are more at a loss about what to do; leisure is not their main focus. Women have broader interests and social networks; “me time” might be one thing they want but isn’t necessarily their main driver.”

“True for me, but I know a number of men who continue to explore and pursue new interests.”

“Most of the people I know (men and women) are exploring various models of “retirement”…I don’t know that they have either view.”

I was surprised by the responses to this last question, with the majority of respondents agreeing with the idea. I probably should not have been totally surprised. After all, the study was out of MIT. I have just a small sample of the world that I know.

I will continue to get more clarity from some of the respondents and will share that with you in a week or so.

If you would like to add your thoughts to this survey, please use this link:

More to come…

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