6 Paths of Retirement

The first of a 2-part blog discussion of a challenging issue

January 4, 2018

In 2017, Nancy K. Schlossberg1 co-president of TransitionWorks and professor emerita at the College of Education, University of Maryland, introduced the idea that retirement is a path. She identified 6 self-defining psychographic paths of retirement retirees typically take.

According to Ms. Schlossberg, Retirees see themselves as Continuers, Adventurers, Easy Gliders, Involved Spectators, Searchers and Retreaters. According to her book, Too Young to Be Old, published by the American Psychological Association, Ms. Schlossberg characterizes each group as the following:

How do you see yourself?

  • Continuers stay connected to their former work and their former identities while developing on new fronts.
  • Adventurers see retirement as an opportunity to pursue an unrealized dream or try something new.
  • Easy Gliders have worked all their lives and decided that retirement is the time to completely relax.
  • Involved Spectators still care deeply about their previous work. They are no longer players, but receive satisfaction from staying involved.
  • Searchers are retirees who are looking for their niche, often through trial and error.
  • Retreaters come in two versions. Some disengage from their previous routine, taking time to figure out what is next. Others get depressed and become couch potatoes.

At The Michael Fahy Group, we recognize that everyone wants something different out of retirement. These categories, though new to us, provide a refreshing and insightful lens to view a group of clients (current and prospective) that are a very important part of our practice.

We appreciate that – as a retiree or pre-retiree – deciding exactly what you want can be a challenge. Still, it’s one of the most important things you can do when preparing for this vital transition in life.

Your retirement income plan

In addition to financial considerations, we have always believed that your retirement income plan should be built around two issues:

  1. Defining who you are.
  2. Deciding what you want to do.

Without clarity on these two points, you’re just taking a shot in the dark. Proof points for this observation were highlighted in a recent article written by Rob Carrick2 in The Globe and Mail (May 2, 2017) called “Which of these retirement paths will you follow?”

Author Rob Carrick wrote that, ‘One of the most important retirement planning steps you can take is to visualize your life after you leave the workforce. All the articles I’ve read about retirement – and there have been thousands – suggest that the unhappiest retirees are the ones that lack a sense of purpose and direction.’

Having a sense of purpose and direction, enhances and refines the approach we already take, and are precisely what Ms. Schlossberg’s insights provide.

The end result

As we say on the Home Page in our website: ‘Our mission is to help our clients achieve their financial goals using a strict, comprehensive process that is designed with the end result in mind. We believe it is about the process and the big picture that creates success – not what happens in the short term.’

Adventurers and Searchers represent very different challenges to us as retirees; as do Continuers and Easy Gliders. And while each category can – and does – having a clearly defined retirement financial strategy for an Adventurer is likely to be very different compared with that for a Continuer.

Watch out for our next instalment

In our second follow-up blog about the 6 paths of retirement, we’ll talk about how we can help you structure your retirement financial planning around your precisely defined goals and expectations – based on who you are and what you want to do. We think it’s a refreshing new take on retirement. Look out for it!

Michael Fahy, The Michael Fahy Group, CIBC Wood Gundy, 604-691-7207.


1  https://www.marketwatch.com/story/which-of-these-6-paths-will-you-take-in-retirement-2017-04-17
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/retirement/retire-lifestyle/carrick-on-money-newsletter-which-of-these-six-retirement-paths-will-you-follow/article34820081/