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Does Working in Retirement Require a Shift in Mindset?

By Hilary Henderson February 24, 2024 Managing Money

The word “retirement” is taking on a completely different meaning in the 21st Century from what it meant in our parents’ day. Back then, retirement referred to the day you stopped work, and life thereafter looked pretty much like going on holiday till you grew old and frail.

As we enter what is called the Third Chapter (for me it is certainly NOT the final chapter; I am saving that till I am old and frail), we Boomers are finding that we still have plenty of energy, and imposing a cessation of work feels like trying to stop our lives mid-stream.

A Road Map Concept

I recently discovered Steven Covey’s book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and it was the first chapter that resonated with me.

He talks about paradigms as road maps. For example, the road map we were given by our parents for retirement is one where you stop working, take on a life of leisure, and finally grow old and frail, and then die.

As 50% of Boomers are expected to live to 100, which is 30–40 years after the conventional age of retirement, this road map isn’t going to cut it for us, because we are going to get very bored and run out of money. Therefore, we need to change the map – or as Covey says, “shift the paradigm.”

Our new map for retirement should include work in some form, though not necessarily in the traditional sense. As I see it, we are going to continue “working,” but in a different manner.

We may work for income or we may work for recognition or simply a philanthropic sense of contribution, but we will spend part of our weeks in structured activity.

Shifting Our Work Mindset

This will require 3 shifts in our way of thinking about work:

How We Define Work

As we were working our way up the corporate ladder, we tended to look for the best job with the best income and then tailor our lifestyle to our earning capacity. In retirement, it tends to work the other way around.

We calculate the income required to sustain our lifestyle, and then we mould the job to suit these criteria. We also need to include a category where we do NOT work for monetary reward. Many retirees find volunteerism liberating and invigorating, if they can afford it.

How We Calculate the Income Needed

In my retirement coaching practice, I help people understand that they are no longer working to save money for retirement.

Most people have a retirement income of some form – either a pension, a state grant, or interest from investments – so you need to calculate the shortfall between what retirement income you can expect, and your monthly budget. This is what you will need to earn.

For example, Linda can expect $1,500 per month in retirement income. She is currently spending $2,000 per month to maintain the lifestyle to which she is accustomed. She would also like to add in an annual holiday costing $1,000.

Linda’s shortfall of $500 per month totals to $6,000 per year. Adding in the holiday, the sum grows to a total of $7,000 per year, or $585 (rounded) per month.

How We Choose to Work

If, for example, Linda wants to work as a life coach in retirement, charging $50 per session, she needs to find a minimum of six clients who she sees fortnightly, in order to cover her expenses.

She can choose to meet with three clients per week all on the same day or she can choose to scatter the appointments. To simplify the example, I have not factored in the extra expenses she would incur to run the business.

The Part Time Switch

When I first retired, the big “a-ha” came when I realised I no longer needed to work full time for a salary. Covey talks about the “a-ha” moment as being that moment when the paradigm shift occurs.

As a retiree, you can tailor your work to bring the income needed to supplement your retirement income, so that you can sustain your standard of living.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What do you seek in retirement? Leasure time or something else? Has your mindset shifted yet? How did that change occur? What did you learn in the process? Let’s have a conversation!

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Velma kitchens

I may go back to work part time to socialize and pay insurance
a nd taxes..


This example does not take into account inflation and the rising cost of healthcare. This will NOT be enough money.

Claude Lataille

I agree. Retirement definitely seems to be associated with the onset of health problems or an increase in health problems. The cost of healthcare is high and climbing. Not just the premiums, but also the tendency for primary care to refer to specialists or up their requirements for follow up.

Karen Jennings

Going back into a full time position, takes me away from my periods of hobbies. However, the challenge of learning a new job, using the experience I have had in education, helps keep me motivated.
I still volunteer, adapting that to rest and relaxation while earning an income without worrying about “ climbing the corporate ladder.”

The Author

Hilary Henderson is a Retirement Coach She brings to her coaching her experience as an Occupational Therapist as well as an entrepreneur. Her mission is to help people find relevance, purpose and meaning in their retirement years. Facebook is one way to reach out to her.

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