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Can I change careers if I am approaching retirement?

5 minute read


middle-aged woman working at a bakery smiling at the camera

Gen Xers approaching retirement tend to feel pressured to maximize earning potential while advancing pensions and savings. 

But with 35% of BC workers feeling burnout, Gen Xers may feel like retiring sooner than later, while simultaneously feeling anxious about their retirement readiness.

It’s important to consider how your employment impacts saving and planning for retirement. 

The age of financial anxiety 

Hit by higher costs of living and fewer pension opportunities, Gen Xers are facing competing financial obligations—like paying for their children’s education, managing their mortgage, while they themselves are trying to save  for retirement and support their aging parents. 

These anxieties may make Gen Xers feel stuck, compelled to “white-knuckle” through workplace stress until they reach retirement. 

It’s important to understand that it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing situation. Fewer people are definitively retiring—instead, they’re easing into a retirement lifestyle while pursuing more fulfilling work. It’s just like the adage says—sometimes a change is as good as a rest.  

Resourceful and independent Gen Xers facing burnout at work may feel compelled to make a career change, but fear they are gambling their financial security if they do so.  

If this sounds like you, ask yourself these questions:  

1. Is it the workplace itself, or is it your role?

Among workers aged 25-54, 37.3% of managers reported experiencing workplace stress—the highest level reported across any occupation.

If you love your workplace but not your role, consider negotiating a shift in responsibilities, change of department, transition to part-time or even voluntary demotion to ease your burnout.  
You’ll likely maintain your seniority, workplace pension, RRSP accounts and/or equity. However, this may come with a lower salary, so adjust your lifestyle and savings plan accordingly. 

2. Is the workplace a poor fit?

Sometimes, the role is right but the employer isn’t. In this case, look for a similar role in an organization that’s a better fit. For example, a remote-first company can offer more flexibility and a greater sense of work-life balance. 
While leaving your current employer could potentially impact any equity, pension or RRSP options you’re entitled to, switching companies often leads to higher pay increases than staying put.

3. Are you ready for an entirely different career?

If you think it’s too late to change careers, think again: in a survey of people who made a career change after age 45, 87% of people were happy they did.
You’ll have to consider the impact of changing careers (especially to a lower experience level) on your finances and adjust accordingly.  

4. Is a “traditional” job still what you want?

If you don’t want to move from one 9-5 to another, consider something entirely different. For example, you could teach in your area of expertise at the local community college, or head out on your own as a contract worker, independent consultant or freelance writer in your field?  
Remember, if you start your own business you may work even harder for even more hours than before. Preventing burnout as an entrepreneur requires setting a clear boundary between work and home life. 
This option will likely have the most significant impact on your finances, but it’s also the most flexible for a more gradual transition to retirement at a pace you can control entirely on your own. 

Switching careers approaching retirement 

Remember: career and retirement plans are highly individualized, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to the perfect retirement plan for your needs. It’s perfectly acceptable to realize that your high-income career may no longer align with your life goals, even if others question your choice. The journey is yours. 

Canadians who have never sought financial advice are four times more likely to have anxiety about retirement. Talk to an advisor about developing a retirement roadmap tailored to benefit your financial and mental well-being.

Talk to an advisor about a retirement plan that works for you.

Start with a free 15-minute consultation.

Call us at 1-888-597-6083, visit us in branch, or fill in the form below and an advisor will reach out to you.