Why Do Some People Work During Their Retirement Years?

Participant Resources

Many people assume that if they work hard and save enough, they will reach the nirvana of retirement.

But what exactly does that look like? Let’s explore this state of presumed perpetual happiness.

So, why do some people work during retirement? The general assumption in our society is that you would not work unless you were trying to earn a living.

From that perspective, the nirvana answer to the end of life (or last 30 years in retirement) is obviously to not have to work. This perception cannot be more wrong.

The reality of happiness in retirement is more complex and the reason why many choose to work is more varied than the simplistic observation above.

We can agree that many people choose to work during retirement, but the reasons vary dramatically. Below are 10 common reasons why people work in retirement:

1.     The need to get out of the house and experience a little separation from family members.

2.     Even greeting at Walmart provides a little spare change for that delightful splurge.

3.     For many of varying ages, the difference between a stress-free financial life and a stress-filled one is additional income of between $400 to $600 per month. That amounts to working 10-15 hours per week at a $12-13 per hour rate.

4.     The transition from full-time employment to retirement is stressful in itself. A few years of part-time consulting or working with your last or prior employer provides a comfortable transition financially and sociologically. It can be hard to separate from work friends cold turkey.

5.     Government statistics show that there is a greater likelihood of someone 65 and above, who has retired from their primary occupation, to want to work longer than those who retire earlier, say in their early 60s.

6.     Money is not the only issue; health is a big one. Again, government reports indicate that someone who is healthy will work longer than someone who isn’t. On the one hand, capability gives greater freedom of choice about whether or not to work.

7.     When a person is more likely to keep working well into their 70s, they are healthy with adequate financial resources. So, the very characteristics that suggest there is no need to work are the very characteristics that encourage working longer.

8.     People want to embrace the gap. The highly anticipated time of not working, followed by a gap of 2-3 years, and then the realization that starting work of some kind is exactly what is needed to give additional meaning to life.

9.     There are three stages of retirement: early, middle and late. Working during the early stages is on the rise, while the middle and late reflect more of what we reasonably expect to happen.

10.  There is a mission to fulfill, a calling heard, a passion to express. It’s not the work, it’s the benefit to others that drives the activity, whether there is pay attached or not.

God does have a plan and what joy it can bring when we listen and follow His direction, especially during the last quarter of our lives.

When our lives have meaning beyond ourselves, when we can encourage, support, and help others, we are energized. That energy is translated into action. The action may be to volunteer, working for free, or to be employed, working for money. In either case, the passion and drive for productive activity puts the purpose to the meaning.

Wondering if you’re financially ready to retire? Click here.

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