The Difference Between Post-Career and Retirement Life

I have had some great conversations with people who are passionate about never retiring. There are usually a variety of reasons for this thinking.

  • They would be bored with nothing to do.
  • There is no value or self-worth when you stop working.
  • They know people who have died shortly after retiring.
  • Retired people get old and cranky.
  • They fear the unknown and like the structure of work.

I have used retirement a lot in my content because it gives context. However, the term also comes with a lot of stereotypes and negative perceptions. That is why I prefer to use the term post-career. It provides a broader view of life for those traditionally approaching or in a traditional retirement age. Therefore, let’s unpack the differences between a perceived traditional retirement and a post-career existence.

The Nature of Work

Retirement: The goal is to get to a point where you are able to leave the workforce entirely and withdraw to a life devoted 100 percent to personal endeavors. In the United States, this typically happens when you reach your mid-sixties.

Post-Career Life: The goal is to understand if and how much you want to work (or not). This might mean you keep going at your current occupation at the same pace or negotiate a more adjustable schedule. You may choose to change careers entirely or start your own business. However, you desire to create as much personal flexibility to pursue untapped personal interests.

The Status of Your Finances

Retirement: There is enough accumulated personal wealth to stop working and maintain a standard of living that is close to your work or career living. In addition, there are resources available to complete a variety of personal activities.

Post-Career Life: You may or may not have enough accumulated wealth to stop working. Nonetheless, you seek and create a lifestyle plan of flexibility that allows you to pursue your personal interests around the need to work…or not.

Types of Activities

Retirement: In retirement you’ll plan travel, volunteer work, hobbies, dedicated time with family and friends, learn new things, relax and enjoy life.

Post-Career Life: Include everything in the retirement category with a major difference. The activities are all built around a robust goal strategy defined through a purpose statement, bucket or vision list, long-term goals, annual goals, and short-term goals. These are all wrapped and integrated around whether you choose to work or not.

The Place You Reside

Retirement: Moving to a new location is a key consideration after a career ends. There are entire planned communities designed for those in retirement, typically in moderate and warmer climates. People move to live next to and around those who are retired as well.

Post-Career Life: The location is a function of the ability to fulfill the goals that are created and worked on in life. Whatever residential situation, it allows for the best flexibility to complete personal pursuits.

The Life You Lead

Retirement: Slow down, relax, reduce the pace, loosen up, settle down, live it up, rest, take it easy, and chill out are many of the expressions tied to a life of retirement.

Post-Career Life: Any of those words could apply to post-career living as well. The main difference, they are interwoven into a fabric of flexibility and purpose, with a plan.

To Sum it Up

You might have read all the post-career descriptions and said, “I already do that in retirement.” Good for you, you are a post-career person before it was cool. Keep living life to the fullest!

For others who look at retirement in a negative light, challenge yourself with the post-career attributes and see if maybe work does not need to define as much of your life for all of your life. Maybe, just maybe, you can see the opportunity to work or not, and have a rich and flexible last 25 to 30 percent of your life.

Want to Learn More about Post-Career Thinking?

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