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Working In Retirement: It's Not As Bad As It Sounds

Working in retirement? I know that sounds very much like an oxymoron. Doesn't retiring mean that you don't have to work anymore??

Well, yes - it does mean you don't HAVE to work anymore, but you still CAN. If you are nearing retirement, consider both the pros and cons of not working at all, especially if you could live 30 years in retirement.

We're Living Longer Now

Not that long ago there wasn't much research done on the downside of retirement. Of course, not that long ago we didn't live much past our retirement age. In those cases, it made sense to do nothing, to play golf, or to travel for the rest of our life because the rest of our life was only a few trips around the sun.

Today, our average life expectancy continues to rise. Yet, the age that we're "supposed" to retire remains that same. That means we are expected to live longer and longer without work. Said another way, a greater percentage of our lives will be spent not working. While that may sound amazing to those of you with jobs you hate, I'd like for you to consider a different definition of work; work consists of actions that bring value to others and meaning to you (notice that doesn't specify if has to be a paid engagement).

A Job You Hate Drains Your Energy

I get it. You may feel that you've had enough work, even if you're in your 30s! But think about this - it's probably the underlying issues that have left you drained and exhausted, not working. Long commutes, micromanaging bosses, endless meetings, corporate politics, meaningless work, and many other issues can contribute to us wanting to just be done.

Think about this, though. Many people who go back to work in retirement don't do it for the money. They do it because there are psychological benefits, although that's not what they would tell you. They would tell you it's because it's boring having unlimited leisure. They would say they miss relationships with other people. They would even say they go crazy spending 100% of their time with their spouse - something they have never had to do outside of a two-week vacation (this sounds facetious, but managing spousal relationships is difficult for many retirees).

If you are in the "I really, really want to hurry up and retire" boat, ask yourself this: What exactly do you want to retire from? You may want to withdraw from your environment, but do you want to withdraw from the challenge of solving problems? You may want to withdraw from an egotistical boss, but do you want to withdraw from colleagues you've developed relationships with over many years?

Health Benefits

Recent Alzheimer's and dementia research is highlighting the power, and I might even say, necessity, of leading an intellectually challenging life - especially as we age. The brain is a very sophisticated muscle that needs to be used. If we can treat life as a learning experience, and are intentional about learning new things, we build and expand our brainpower.

Have you ever heard anyone notice that Bridge players live longer and are healthier than the rest of us? Well, it's not so much that playing Bridge helps, but there is something to be said for social interactions (your Bridge crew) and problem-solving (playing Bridge).

But, you don't have to play Bridge to get these benefits. Working in retirement gives you the same benefits with the added benefit of making a difference and often getting paid.

Be Careful Out There

Most of us are unprepared for the realities that come once we retire. Playing golf every day quickly loses its appeal, as does traveling constantly. The family doesn't want us visiting as much as we thought. Spouses need space. Further, we don't know where or how to use our lifetime of know-how anymore.

It's A New World Out There

The old retirement question was, "How will I invest my money so I can retire comfortably?" The new retirement question is, "How will I invest in myself, my time, and my money?"

If you can avoid jumping off the work cliff, and instead begin negotiating the type of balance that best suits your lifestyle, you will no doubt enjoy a much more rewarding and fulfilling retirement.

If you are looking forward to retiring, think about how work will be integrated into your life going forward. Many folks don't do this assessment before retiring - only to end up going back to work in some capacity because they realized they were missing out on some of the benefits of work.

If you can't believe someone is paying you to do what you're doing, you are collecting what is known as a "play-check." If this is the case, you should give serious consideration as to whether or not you want to retire. Whether you are retired or not, collecting a "play-check" should be your goal.

You have to spend some time to determine how work benefits you. Money is certainly one benefit, and having more of it doesn't hurt. But the saying goes, money can't buy happiness. The psychological, social, and intellectual benefits that the right work give you in your life is much more difficult to tally in terms of the value it delivers - but it is just as important.


Mitch Anthony: The New Retirementality


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© 2018 Money Health Solutions, LLC



About the Author

Derek Hagen, CFA, CFP, FBS, CFT-I, CIPM is a speaker, writer, and coach specializing in financial psychology, meaning and valued living, resilience, and mindfulness.


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