People are living longer, healthier lives and that has Baby Boomers questioning whether it’s wise to end their careers at age 65. Many potential retirees would prefer to extend their careers by hunkering down in their current jobs. Unfortunately, when that’s no longer possible, they may not have any other promising options.

I understand the dilemma. After practicing law for more than 35 years, I decided to step away from a law firm leadership position at age 62. I chose to form my own business so I could explore other opportunities made available through my lifelong experience in the construction and legal industries.

As I approach the sixth anniversary of my retirement, I can’t help but think about how quickly time flies and how lucky I am to still have rewarding opportunities ahead of me. If I can enjoy fulfilling work that extends my career, you can too—if you plan accordingly.

The decision to “retire” seems to be particularly agonizing for senior partners in law firms of all sizes and senior executives in privately held and family-owned construction businesses. For them, the mere thought of voluntarily giving up control and compensation from the company they helped build, and willingly diminishing their stature in the eyes of loyal clients, customers, and friends in the business community, is very discouraging to say the least.

That’s why a post by Attorney at Work recently caught my attention. The message, Five Reasons Lawyers Avoid Retirement, targets the legal profession. However, my experience working alongside successful construction professionals suggests that Baby Boomers working in both industries have similar mindsets. They are hesitant to discuss “slowing down” for these reasons:

  1. Loss of Identity
  2. Reluctance to Leave Clients and Customers
  3. Fear of Transitioning
  4. Inertia
  5. Failure to Succession Plan

Think about it. Most professionals develop a wide variety of talents and skills over the course of their careers. Those assets are like money in the bank, you get to take them with you and use them however you choose and whenever you decide. Why not plan on taking advantage of that hard-earned working capital later in your career?

All it takes to make a smooth and rewarding career transition is the willingness to set realistic personal and professional goals early in your career and then implement them through a thoughtful strategy that is respectful to everyone involved. On the other hand, if you don’t create options for yourself during each stage of your career, you might find yourself stuck in a rut that will be impossible to get out of in a satisfying manner when the time is right.

So, if you are not already considering your long-range career goals and opportunities, you better get started. The process can’t be rushed, and you may need some luck along the way. But at the same time, you might have fun just dreaming about what slowing down will mean for you.