Work after retirement? Seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? But the fact is, over half of baby boomers continue to work once they retire and 72 per cent of pre-retirees aged 50+ say they want or expect to continue working past the traditional retirement age. Further, 55 per cent of boomers say they want to retire gradually.
The reasons are many, and financial isn’t necessarily the primary one. Yes, many of us fear we won’t be able to support ourselves as we age without receiving some form of employment income. And with our increased longevity and consumer debt, and the decline in investment earnings, defined pensions and other benefit plans offered by employers, this number will continue to grow.
Recognizing that we may live 20 or 25 years past the traditional retirement age of 65, many boomers aren’t considering a life of leisure just yet. They value the other benefits work provides as well as the pay cheque – a sense of identity and purpose, structure to their day, opportunities to socialize and contribute. And there are plenty of research studies that extol the mental and physical health benefits derived by staying in the workforce as you age.
So, if you expect working to be part of your retirement picture, what are some of your options?
- Stay in place: Mandatory retirement is no longer required for most jobs, so if you like it and you can still do it, don’t retire from yours. Simply continue working where you are.
- Scale back: More employers are starting to get creative about how work gets done. If you are fortunate enough to have an employer who offers a phased retirement program, flexible work options, contract work, or job-sharing, or you run your own business, you can reduce your number of hours and gradually phase out of the workforce over a period of years. You get the best of both worlds – the financial and health benefits of working and the flexibility to start doing things you haven’t had time for that will prepare you for retirement. (See my previous post about trying out retirement.)
- Start a business: If you’re not happy in your current job and being your own boss has always been a dream, starting a business may be the route you want to take. This can range from consulting in the field you have been working in, turning a hobby into a business, freelancing, buying a franchise or existing business, or creating one from the ground up.
- Retrain for a new career: Have you always regretted your career path? Is there some other occupation that has interested you? People in their 50’s and even 60’s are retraining and entering new careers at an increasing rate. One study indicates 40 per cent of workers who are still working at age 62, changed occupations sometime after 55 years of age.
- Volunteer: While some may not view volunteering as work, you use many of the same skills and derive many of the same benefits as you do from paid employment. Those boomers who don’t need additional income in their retirement are finding enormous pleasure in giving back through causes they care deeply about, mentoring others and using their knowledge and expertise in new and different ways.
Whatever path you choose, it will be far less bumpy with some intentional forethought before you actually make the decision to retire or keep working. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What are my financial needs? Do I need to continue working to meet my financial obligations?
- Do I want to continue working or have I had enough? How else can I replace the benefits working currently provides?
- Will I be able to continue working? i.e. am I taking care of my overall health to preserve my physical and cognitive capabilities?
- What do I need to do to prepare myself for a post-work career/job? (e.g. update your resume, job search, and technology skills, research options, retraining/education, acquisition of business skills, etc.)
- If I’m interested in flexible work options, does my current employer offer them or would they be open to considering it? What other employers in my field offer these kinds of options?
Whether work is something you need or want to continue will depend on your personal circumstances. All of these options have their rewards and challenges. Having a plan to deal with them will help you move into this next phase of your life with confidence.
We offer a variety of coaching programs and workshops for individuals, couples and groups to help you assess your readiness to retire and how you can create a smooth transition from the workforce or enhance your current retirement lifestyle.