Plan for retirement while still working

May 27, 2011

Nashville Business Journal 


We all hope to retire well. In our dreams, retirement may take the form of lazy days lying on the beach, playing golf or fishing. But in reality, if you are a typical Type A business leader like me, you may have a hard time actually retiring.

For the first few months you may sleep late, eat on your own schedule and try to do all those things that you dreamt about over the years. But for most, the novelty of being retired wears off quickly, and you may find yourself looking for something more rewarding to fill your time.

After serving in a career that likely spanned more than 40 years and encompassed a series of challenging jobs and increasing responsibilities, a fair degree of job satisfaction, plenty of accomplishments and strong, long-term friendships, the shock of stopping work is a significant adjustment. Your sense of accomplishment may diminish, and your old work buddies won’t be as accessible. In effect, you will be faced with starting a new life.

So what do you plan to do with the rest of your life? It’s never too early to start developing a plan.

Scaling back
The path to retirement can be much smoother if there is a more limited or flexible role for you after your full-time career.
When my father retired at 65 he took a few weeks off and then went back to work three days a week doing essentially the same job for a different bank. Likewise, my brother-in-law retired a few years ago as a scientist at a large steel mill and returned to work as a consultant with his own flexible work schedule.

In my career at Tractor Supply Co., I spent a large portion of my time teaching and coaching store managers, district managers and executives. When I began to step down from a full-time career I found an opportunity to pursue my passion for helping to build the skills of business leaders through our leadership institute. Now I am doing what I love to do on a part-time basis.

Joe Scarlett is founder of the Scarlett Leadership Institute
and retired chairman of Tractor Supply Co.
He can be reached at


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