If I asked you to provide some reasons as to why many Boomers want to continue working in retirement, the most frequent answer would be, “for the money.” I don’t doubt that is the main motive, but I would like to further unpack the issue of Boomers choosing not to stop working.
Let’s begin by looking at what a job or employment adds to our lives.
The income provides financial security, but the work hours and annual leave cycle add a structure and predictability that holds our lives together.
The best jobs challenge us, keep us on the boundaries of our comfort zone and furnish opportunities for learning. Jobs that allow for a measure of creativity will offer fertile soil for adventure, learning, and stimulation.
We have a work identity that informs the world around us who we are, by informing them about what we do, what we know, and our status.
The work setting often creates a set of norms and a jargon; together these form a culture to which we belong. With a good leader at the helm, we are made to feel that we are part of a whole that is moving towards a common goal.
Work provides plenty of opportunities to grow and contribute to the world around us. Whether it involves going on courses, or simply learning on the job, many firms create a safe environment for us to learn and therefore to grow. We can then use what we have learned, to give back to the community around us.
When we come up for retirement, literally overnight, all of the above are ripped out from under our feet, like the proverbial carpet. There is no predictability, stability, and security in endless unstructured weeks going forward.
We need to go out in search of stimulation and challenge, as well as a sense of belonging. Our identity is no longer written on the door of the office; we are suddenly simply a pensioner or retiree.
We have a whole new jargon of retirement to learn and, if we have come into retirement suddenly, we may be unprepared for this new culture. And, where will we find opportunities to grow and contribute?
Thus, many decide that continuing to work is the easiest way to restore the balance. And why not, if you have a decade or two of healthy living before you are too old and frail? So how do we set about ‘working’ in retirement?
For many, fear of losing the above-mentioned freedoms and rights is sufficient incentive to continue working at what they know and do best.
They will look for contract work in the field they have recently left or even try to get an extension or a part-time contract in the firm from which they are retiring.
Some may go to another player in the industry in search of a contract. After all, they have valuable skills to offer, fine-tuned over many years.
For others, their job may have become boring, they may have reached the top of the ladder or they feel they have little more to offer.
This is where many decide to step out and become entrepreneurs, working for themselves, at something that really ignites their passion or unleashes a previously stifled desire. This may involve a clean break or simply repackaging of skills they already have.
For more information on the unfolding of the entrepreneur in retirement, please refer to my previous blogs on Sixty and Me.
Yet others, for whom money is not the priority, may offer their time as mentors or volunteers. At the end of a 40-year career, most of us have much to offer that will assist the younger generations. We can show them why they don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
The need to contribute seems to become stronger as we age. Maybe it is because we feel more pressured to leave our mark on this life, but I find that many women over 60 demonstrate a deep desire to make a difference and give back to the community around them.
In addition to the above, medical science has estimated that many of us will enjoy an extended number of years based on leading a healthy life.
If my genes are anything to go by, I stand a good chance of living into my 90s. As it happens, I have a strong desire to make those years meaningful for both myself and those around me, which is why I intend ‘working’ for as long as I possibly can.
How do you fill up your ‘retirement’ days? Do you work? What are your reasons? Please share with our community!
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