The Great Career Struggle: Should You Work in Retirement?

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The decision of whether to work in retirement is extremely personal, with no one-size-fits-all answer.

“I’m working to have enough money to retire by 70. I’m in my 50’s now and made some bad financial choices. I am trying to save but I can only put away about 1% because I have other loans to pay off.” Austin

“I’m in my late 50’s, not quite at retirement age, but I am sure looking forward to it. I can’t wait for the day when I don’t have to deal with job stress.” Deloris

“My dad worked all his life and saved so he and my mom could build their dream home. Once he retired and moved, he ended up dying 4 years later.” Jerry

Individuals consider many factors, such as the financial situation, health, interests, and personal preferences. Many times, those choices are impacted by their own decisions, but many times by observing others.

Before you choose to retire or not, take away the idea that work should be an all or nothing choice. For some people, working in retirement is a way to stay active and engaged. It can also provide a sense of purpose and structure, and it can help to supplement income.

Others may find that they enjoy working less in retirement, or that they prefer to focus on other activities, such as travel, hobbies, or spending time with family and friends.

If you’re considering working in retirement (or not retiring and continuing to work), there are some things you’ll need to think about.

The Finances

Assess your financial situation. Do you have enough savings to cover your expenses in retirement? If not, working may be a way to help bridge the gap.

For Austin, work is his only option right now. Deloris is in a different and more flexible situation. In each case, both should be looking at and monitoring their financial flexibility. In Austin’s case, to see if less work can come sooner, and with Delories that she does not get surprised and must go back to work.

The Health Concerns

Consider your health. If you’re in good health, you may be able to find a part-time or full-time job that’s enjoyable and fulfilling. However, if you have health concerns, you may need to find a job that’s less demanding.

Jerry ties health and retirement together because he has the example of his dad. While there is data that suggests people who retire early tend to have a shorter life expectancy, there are usually underlying issues going into retirement. Whatever your age, take good care of yourself starting right now.

The Stuff Away from Work

Think about your interests. What do you enjoy doing? Are there any careers that you’ve always been interested in but never had the chance to pursue? If so, retirement may be a great time to explore those interests.

Deloris needs to map out a solid goal strategy when she moves into retirement. Austin should not neglect personal pursuits, even in a tough economic situation. Larry should reflect on what his dad was doing (and not) and see where he can apply that back to his own life.

The Personal Preferences

Consider your personal preferences. Do you want to work full-time, part-time, or just a few hours a week? Do you want to work in a traditional office setting, or would you prefer to work from home?

There’s no right or wrong answer. However, if you’re considering working in retirement, it’s important to do your research and make sure that you’re making the best decision for you.

Deloris may not want to work, but it still would not hurt to explore options, in case she changes her mind 6 months to a year in. Larry may want to work but should determine what that looks like. Austin should not think he has to stay in the same place until 70. He might be able to make gradual adjustment.

The Solution for All Three

Establish a personal goal strategy. While Austin, Deloris, and Jerry each look at work and retirement differently, they each can gain greater retirement clarity by setting personal goals what align with working (or not).

  • Create a life purpose statement
  • Construct a bucket or vision list
  • Establish long-term goals (2 to 4 years)
  • Establish annual goals
  • Establish short-term goals (up to 6 months)

By figuring out your personal ambitions, you know how much work will play a role in the short and long run.

Learn more about the lifestyle possibilities of your future self.

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