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There's been a paradigm shift in how we view retirement. The when, how and what have all changed. Many retirees opt to stay active in the work force – with new careers, consulting gigs, part-time work, small businesses, and more.

Here are some questions to help you navigate this next stage of life.

How soon should I start to plan?

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While your ideas and plans might evolve over time, starting earlier will give you more leeway to research, potentially retrain, test out ideas and get ready.

What will I need from my work?

Clarifying your financial needs is important but work provides other benefits such as: social interaction; opportunity for accomplishment, growth and learning; structure to our days; meaning and purpose. Will you depend on work for these rewards or will you get them from other aspects of your life?

What kind of work would I like to do?

Do you plan to stay in your field or try something new? Do you plan to work full or part-time? Self-employed or traditional? Getting a handle on the opportunities will help you prepare.

What will it take to shift gears?

Starting a new business or changing careers can take more time, money and effort. Be aware of what's involved and ask yourself if you have the resources, desire and energy to make this shift happen.

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What do I need to know to make the right choice?

It's great to have ideas, but reality-test them before you dive in. What do you need to research, explore and learn about to be informed of their viability? Be prepared for some trial and error as you explore.

How will work fit into my life?

Too much work and not enough play is the cry of today's work warrior, but all leisure and no work can be just as debilitating. Such is the paradox of balance in this life stage. Ask yourself what will fuel you and provide meaning (and pay the bills).

Who will I be?

Many people attach self identity to their work. "Who will I be" replaces "What do I do" in this life stage. What will you need to let go of to embrace new possibilities?

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Who else needs to be part of the conversation?

You want to start a new business but your spouse wants to travel the world. Make sure your planning takes into consideration those people most important to you. If you don't, you could hit some significant roadblocks compromising not just your plans but your relationships and personal well-being.

How will I make it all happen?

Knowing your goal is the crucial first step but having a plan is just as important. Whether you start a new business or aim to stay employed traditionally you need a plan to market yourself, network and make it happen.

Eileen Chadnick (@Chadnick) is a work-life and leadership coach and principal of Big Cheese Coaching in Toronto. She is the author of Ease, a book offering strategies to cope when you're "crazy busy."

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