By Marc Verhoeve

In an earlier article I wrote, A Look at Donald Super’s Stages of Career Development in the 21st Century, I ended with a discussion about Super’s redefinition of the Decline Stage. As I have just reached the “65 Level”, I thought that I would discuss this stage… as a member of the first wave of Baby Boomers edging into retirement.

In my previous article, I stated:

“As I counsel these clients, I have the challenge of investigating with the client the range of options, from full-time to part-time “portfolio workers” to searching vehicles that service the non-work dimensions of one’s career. I have defined this stage as “career renewal” because it allows the client to investigate a wider range of activities because they are, in many cases, not constrained by the financial bonds of a full-time job. They become a “temporal millionaire” because they now fully own their time.”

Five years ago, when I turned 60, I “retired” from the education sector as a school counsellor after 32 years. I immediately transitioned to the role of Executive Director for the Ontario School Counsellors’ Association (OSCA). The transition of work culture was quite dramatic. After being in a work environment where I interacted daily with almost 2,000 students and over 100 staff, the shift to SOHO worker (Small Office/ Home Office) was a culture shock. No more bells to remind one of the time and no more interruptions via walk-in traffic or phone calls. While I missed the face-to-face interaction with students, teachers and parents, working from home significantly increased my productivity in projects and research. The downside was two-fold. First, one is forced to be an aggressive time manager, otherwise it can evolve into a 24/7 job. Second, there is the danger of professional isolation, unless one continually communicates with colleagues (via phone or email) to network and solicit feedback.

After five years, I have left my position at OSCA… to transition to the next stage in the retirement continuum. Interestingly, I received inquiries from colleagues and friends asking whether I was now REALLY going to retire. My response was: “You can’t pasture-ize me yet!”

As I indicated in my previous article, I have been consulting with Research Psychologists Press since the 1980s. When I left OSCA, RPP contacted me about providing input on the development of a new career assessment tool, Jackson Career Explorer, as well as working with them in the design of a JCE training webinar for school counsellors.

In addition, my previous career assessment private practice has auto-rebooted thanks to referrals from colleagues. (I had placed my practice in hiatus while I was working for OSCA). I have also initiated re-involvement with professional and community agencies.
On reflecting on my career-pathing in this last stage of Donald Super’s developmental model, I return to his redefinition of “career”, as I had discussed at length in my JVIS Manual:

Donald Super stated that one’s “career” encompasses all activities that comprise your identity; your job is that part that you get paid for. One’s “career resilience” increases when one does not invest all of one’s identity into one’s job (I termed this being “fire-proof”).

As one moves into retirement, this becomes even more critical. I have watched friends and colleagues move into retirement. Those who had extended their identity into the other sectors of Super’s constellation experienced a smooth transition into retirement. However, it was tragic to watch teacher-colleagues who retired before me return to the school staff room daily after their retirement day… lost, and not knowing where else to go.

Havighurst discussed this issue in his Activity theory:

“Thus older adults who are actively involved in a variety of situations and who establish new roles and relationships are more likely to age with a sense of satisfaction.” (Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, 8th edition. © 2009, Elsevier.)

This final stage in “career” development is becoming more critical because it has become a larger segment of one’s lifespan. German chancellor Otto von Bismarck created the world’s first comprehensive government social safety net in the 1880s, providing for old-age pensions and setting 60 as the age of retirement. He chose 60 because he thought that the number of citizens older than 60 would be insignificant. At a Teacher Pension info-session that I attended, we were told that, for most retired teachers in Ontario, their years in retirement usually outnumber the years that they worked as teachers!

A segment of my private-practice clients were “golden-handshakers” (early retirees). Their career paths were in one of three directions:

  • Continuing (part-time) in their work sector
  • Trying a new work sector
  • Community/Volunteer work

These clients were proactive. They sought input before they reached retirement, not after retiring. I well remember an American Counseling Association conference workshop I attended 20 years ago which spoke to this; it had a very articulate session title: “After the World Cruise, What Then…?”

As I stated in a previous article about the evolution of one’s job, a bend in the road is not the end of the road… unless you fail to make the turn.
As one sees the distant pasture on one’s career path, one must remember that the pasture is not a destination, but a gateway to new activities, events and bucket-list locations that continue to enrich one’s life.


After 32 years in secondary school counselling, Marc Verhoeve has just completed a five-year term as the Executive Director of the Ontario School Counsellors’ Association.  He continues in his role as a Careerpathing Consultant. You can contact him at