Ms. Schlesinger was inspired to write her book by witnessing so many Americans rethinking their careers in the pandemic. “So many people have been making transitions and big resets,” she said.
Many Americans are surprised to find themselves having to leave full-time work sooner than they expected. Age discrimination, health problems, disability and job loss, or the need to care for a loved one, can intervene.
Forty-six percent of retirees reported this year that they left the work force earlier than planned, according to a survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute. And there is a substantial gap between expectations about how long people will continue to work and reality. One in three workers told the survey’s researchers that they planned to retire at age 70 or older, or “not at all,” while only 6 percent of retirees reported that they actually worked that long. And just 11 percent of workers said they planned to retire before 60, compared with 33 percent of retirees who reported they retired that early.
For people like this, entrepreneurship offers one route to staying in the game.
“I don’t think people really know how retirement will play out,” says Craig Copeland, director of wealth benefits research at E.B.R.I. “No one counts on becoming sick or having a disability, or a layoff after working for a company for 10 or 20 years, and they aren’t building those kinds of events into their plans for retirement.”
The shock of no paycheck
Not getting a regular paycheck might be the most intimidating change that comes with taking the entrepreneurial path for those used to full-time work — and it requires some careful planning. Most new businesses need time to generate revenue, so try to start with a cash cushion to pay living expenses while you wait, advises Roger Wohlner, a freelance financial writer and fee-only financial planner who started a business eight years ago that combines those pursuits.