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Retirement in phases an option

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Saturday, July 5, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

I won't say which one, but I just had a birthday roll around, and as a member of the baby boomer generation (born between 1946 and 1964), I am noticing that a lot of us are not following the traditional “here today, gone tomorrow” retirement plan.

Instead, it seems a lot of folks are “seguing” into retirement.

Take Jim Hazen, Ph.D., a long-time self-employed organizational development consultant in Wexford, who says he started seguing out of his business three years ago. When he sold it last month, he retired at age 66. Hazen and his wife are devoting themselves to a farm that boasts 50 chickens, eight goats and four cats, with more animals to come. He says, “After many years of traveling for business, it was a conscious lifestyle choice to become a ‘gentleman farmer' and do all the things I couldn't do before.”

At 87, Velma Walls of Port Vue works part-time. She may not be a baby boomer, but she is a great example of seguing into retirement. After raising her family, Walls worked in a department store, then in 1982, joined her son David's business when he purchased The Carriage Inn Restaurant in Lincoln Boro. Originally, she was the full-time bookkeeper, but over the years, she scaled back to two days a week. She fills her spare time with church activities and staying fit. Walls says, “I was just thinking this morning that I have a contented life, and I would not want to change a thing.”

Helen Spagna of McMurray, 61, was a pharmacist who cut back to part-time employment 18 months ago. While pondering whether to fully retire, she read a fortune cookie that resonated with her. It said, “Sometimes money costs too much.” She retired within weeks.

Most people who work for a traditional employer don't have the luxury of retiring in phases. But for those who work for themselves or for a family-owned business, flexibility is more common.

While I don't plan to retire anytime soon, sometimes I ponder what I could do that would interest me as much as my consulting business. For now, I have concluded that anywhere I could communicate, encourage, teach, preach, coach or advocate would be ideal for me. That could take many forms: a CASA advocate for children entangled in the legal system; foster parenting; job search coaching for a nonprofit; or ministry at Heaven's Family, where I occasionally help out.

I've been reading plenty of books on retirement planning, and here are several I recommend:

• “Life Reimagined,” (Richard J. Leider and Alan M. Webber, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2013)

• “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free” (Ernie J. Zelinski, VIP Books, 2013)

• “Encore Career Handbook,” (Marci Alboher, Workman Publishing, 2013)

• “The Single Woman's Guide to Retirement,” (Jan Cullinane, John Wiley & Sons, 2012)

• “What Color Is Your Parachute For Retirement,” (John E. Nelson and Richard N. Bolles, Ten Speed Press, 2010).

List those who have gone before you. Who carved out a life that appeals to you? List how you could contribute at any age. Take stock of where your personality, values and interests intersect. What paths would afford you opportunities to capitalize on who you are? If you're uncertain, work with a career coach to map a strategy.

Chris Posti is president of Posti & Associates in Pittsburgh. She can be reached at 724-344-1668.

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