In conversations with pre-retirees, retirees and industry professionals, there’s a growing recognition that retiring is often the easy part — it’s figuring out what they’re going to do with the rest of their lives that’s difficult.

As a new retirement emerges, the retirement industry must shift from traditional retirement planning, which focuses exclusively on how much an individual needs in retirement, to longevity planning, which is a more holistic approach that includes the often overlooked non-financial aspects of retirement.

In a recent Edward Jones and AgeWave survey, 54 per cent of Canadian retirees and pre-retirees said retirement is a new chapter in life compared to 27 per cent who said it’s a time for rest and relaxation. The survey also found more than half (55 per cent) want to work in some way and feel a balance of work and leisure in retirement is an ideal approach.

Read: Longevity pessimism poses risks to retirement planning: survey

It’s time to shift the narrative away from retirement as a destination to a transition point in a pension plan member’s life journey. Due to increasing longevity and better health care, new stages are emerging in the second half of life.

The Edward Jones and AgeWave survey described four distinct stages in retirement:

  1. Anticipation — 10 to zero years before retirement
  2. Liberation/disorientation — zero to two years after retirement
  3. Reinvention — three to 14 years after retirement
  4. Reflection/resolution — 15-plus years after retirement

By taking a longevity lifestyle design approach, a pre-retiree can reduce the anxiety of the anticipation stage, avoid the dark side of the disorientation stage, open up their aperture for the possibilities of the reinvention stage and reduce regrets in the reflection/resolution stage.

Read: 58% of Canadian pre-retirees contributing to retirement savings: survey

Pension plan sponsors can start by expanding their retirement education programs to include longevity lifestyle by design programs such as:

  • Self-service education, worksheets and tools to help plan members with the longevity lifestyle design process;
  • Facilitated workshops to help plan members shift their mindsets from retirement planning to longevity planning and to develop a plan to test their new lifestyle; and
  • Individual coaching with a certified retirement coach, who can work with a plan member over a series of meetings to help design a lifestyle for their next chapter of life.

Retirement is the first of many career stages that will be reshaped because of increasing longevity and the pace of change. Employers need to adapt to the future of work and the new reality of retirement by developing a longevity strategy for their workforces. Successful organizations will implement a workforce strategy that recognizes this new reality and capitalizes on the wisdom and knowledge of employees looking to include work in some fashion in their longevity lifestyle plan.

Mike Drak is an author, public speaker and retirement lifestyle designer.