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Self-Care Corner

By Sharon Puszko, PhD, LMT

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The Life Stage of Retirement

I am twenty-five years into my second career as a massage therapist and instructor. While I still love what I do, I cannot escape the truth that retirement is sharpening from a hazy, distant dream into a clear, impending reality for me.

As I plan for my retirement, I am not just talking to my financial advisor and keeping a closer eye on my retirement plan. I am also considering what to do with my practice once I am ready to step into retirement. One of the many blessings of our field is its flexibility to fit our interests, lifestyle and time commitment. With careful thought and preparation, your career can continue to fit your personal goals and financial situation by switching your client focus, scaling down, or selling your practice.

Switching It Up

While all massage modalities demand much of us physically, you may find that switching to geriatric or prenatal massage may be the best move for you to continue to serve clients effectively. Instead of seeing this as an end of an era, working with clients that fit into your life stage or the challenge of training for a new modality could give you a renewed motivation.

The Life Stage of Retirement - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Pursuing education for a new phase of your career is exciting and could compel you to continue your passion for massage longer than you thought possible. Geriatric massage in particular is a growing field, with 10,000 people reaching the 65-year milestone every day and could be a very promising shift for MTs wanting a new challenge that better fits their life stage.

The idea of retirement being all or nothing is quickly becoming an antiquated notion of ending a career. More and more people are easing into retirement and enjoy it more because of this. While going cold turkey is still a goal for many, others have seen the mental, physical and financial benefit of scaling back their work hours.

Decreasing Your Hours

Thankfully, our field is well-suited to this trend. If you want more freedom to pursue your personal interests or need to cut down on the physical demands of your professional life, decreasing the hours you spend providing services to clients is an easy way to accomplish that. For some, this will happen naturally if you simply cease your efforts to grow your client base (which may feel so odd compared to the effort you have made in this area over years).

Others with a very loyal customer base may want to partner with another provider to make sure that your existing clients have a quality option for their massage needs as you scale down your practice. Be sure to have a communication plan in place so that your customers have clear expectations of your new hours and availability.

The Life Stage of Retirement - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Selling Your Practice

If selling your successful practice is a route you are considering, preparation is vital. Scaling back your practice may seem like a natural path to eventually selling it, but the best way to maximize your profit from years of investing of time, talent, treasure, and yes, even tears, into your business is to do your best to maintain its growth so that you have a healthy business to market.

This can potentially be a complex process, but there are resources and professionals available to help you navigate the sale of your practice successfully. If you would like to wade into a transition such as this, consider seeking out another massage therapist who is seriously interested in purchasing a practice to bring on as an associate for a few years. A successful arrangement will allow you to gradually scale back the time you spend on your practice and ensure that you are giving your clients a smooth transition to the new owner.

It does not take much life experience to know that change is inevitable. As you plan for your retirement, I hope that you will embrace this change and the new professional opportunities this life stage can bring. If retirement is still distant for you, begin to dream about how to make your skills and the investment that you have made in your career work for you and your clients for many years to come.

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