As I talk to clients in their fifties and older, they are all really conscious of needing to plan for the years that traditionally belonged to full retirement. Not only do many people not have the nest egg for retiring at 66, many simply are bored by the prospect. Here is what I am hearing:
Some are interested in transitioning from their vocation to their avocation, such as switching from VP of IT to furniture making.
Others are seeking to go into teaching, usually as an adjunct professor at the college, community college, or adult education level. Many business programs are looking for experienced professionals to lend their learned wisdom to their students. (Prefer a Ph.D. but sometimes a Master's degree suffices if the course is pragmatic enough).
Consulting is probably the most common solution I am hearing about. This option requires planning ahead in terms of developing a clear personal brand (what you do best and the value you bring to the market) and defining the services you can provide and who your target market is. Some people are staying on at their place of employment but in a consulting capacity. There is a great need for the expertise and retained corporate knowledge as the work force becomes younger and less experienced.
Volunteering, although not a money-maker, is an appealing option - but now boomers are thinking about it not it terms of serving soup at a soup kitchen, but rather in terms of how they can apply their considerable professional skills to advance the common good. Whether that means providing business strategy consulting to non-profits or setting up the technology infrastructure for a new non-profit, "retirees" have a lot to contribute.
I even hear of people in their 40s thinking about their futures in retirement. Which makes sense because developing your personal brand and evolving it through life is replacing the traditional sense of identity people got from working for the same employer for decades. It will be interesting to see how the concept of retirement evolves over the coming years. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!