Which retirement paths can baby boomers follow?

Which retirement path will you follow … or have you already followed? Nancy K. Schlossberg, co-president of the consulting firm, TransitionWorks and author of Too Young To Be Old, wrote for our partners at NextAvenue.org about the Six Retirement Paths to follow.

Regardless of where you are in the retirement planning process, it might be time to think about your future path. Through my research, I have identified six major paths retirees follow.

Nancy K. Schlossberg

It is important to note that a path may not always be a straight line. People change paths, combine paths and pursue paths in their own unique way. You can identify yourself by the type of path you choose.

Here are the six major paths retirees follow:

1.  Continuers modify their activities while continuing along a similar path. A retired teacher identified as a continuer: “I continue writing and speaking but no longer teach or work for an organization. As my daughter said, ‘The only thing retired about you is your paycheck.’

Continuers maintain their former identity but in a modified way. Mort, a retired museum director, occasionally curates an art show. Larry, a retired roofer, will help out his old firm in an emergency. Continuers stay connected to their former work and their former identities while developing on new fronts.

2.  Adventurers see retirement as an opportunity to pursue an unrealized dream or try something new. Jane, a retired teacher, turned her hobby of raising goats into her new life. She bought a small farm and raises angora goats. She is making yarn and selling it at craft fairs.

3.  Easy gliders have worked all their lives and decided that retirement is the time to relax. They take each day as it comes.

Sam, a retired bank teller, now plays golf and poker and babysits for his grandchildren. For some, the joy of having no agenda and no pressure makes for a relaxed and rewarding life.

4.  Involved spectators still care deeply about their previous work. They are no longer players, but they receive satisfaction from staying involved.

For example, Steve, a retired lobbyist is no longer physically able to walk the halls of Congress, but he still follows the news and stays on top of current events.

5.  Searchers are retirees who are looking for their niche. At some point, any one of us may be a searcher. We might retire, then adventure into a new path, and then when that has played out, we might search again.

Think of all the times you have asked yourself, “What’s next?” Searchers try out new activities during this trial-and-error period.

Searchers and adventurers are similar, but not the same. Searchers keep looking. Adventurers are actually doing something new and different. The searcher might end up becoming an easy glider, an involved spectator or an adventurer.

6.  Retreaters come in two versions. Some step back and disengage from their previous routine, using a moratorium to figure out what is next. Others get depressed and become couch potatoes.

You can ask yourself which path you want to pursue. You can follow any path or a combination of paths.

After a retirement workshop, a woman told me: “When people used to ask me what I was doing now that I am retired, I said fliply, ‘I am not dead yet.’ Now I will say: ‘I am a continuer.’”

(Reproduced with permission from Too Young to Be Old: Love, Learn, Work, and Play as You Age. Copyright © 2017 American Psychological Association. All rights reserved.)


  1. I’ve been a continuer for ten years now and am now starting to search for the next satisfying adventure. So, call me a fusion retiree.

  2. I just made it to my 1 year anniversary of retirement. For what it is worth I found taking this first year “off” really helped. I worked for 47 straight years in two different professions – both of which were extremely active and stressful. I didn’t realize how burned out I was until I did retire. I guess I am a combination of #3 and #6. Taking it easy but I also totally disengaged from my former life. Its been wonderful.

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