Christy, one of my followers on my Facebook page Retire Happy with Jim, posed a great question: “Many people are choosing to work during retirement. Which occupations do they tend to choose?”
I've always said that everything we learn in life we learn from others. In essence, the people that surround us have a great influence on the daily, weekly and yearly outcomes of our life. For that reason, we often look to what others are doing to help us guide our own paths in life. When it comes to working in retirement, I've always said “Retirement can be anything you want it to be”. The key is to figure out what you want it to be. In other words retirement is very personal.
Working in retirement
One of the biggest trends in retirement is the movement to work in retirement. There was a time when retirement meant, “not working”. Today studies show that 50% to 80% of baby boomers plan to work in retirement. People are looking at retirement not with an end of work perspective but more of a change in work perspective.
I believe working in retirement is becoming a big trend because the retiree of today and tomorrow is younger than we've ever seen before and not just younger by age but younger physically, mentally, spiritually. The current and future retiree is capable of so much more than the retiree 30 years ago that retired at 65 and statistically lived to 70.
Retirement is personal
Working in retirement is not only becoming completely acceptable, it is actually becoming the norm. The problem is advertising has poked fun at people who plan to work in retirement especially when they become the greeter at Walmart.
For the record, I don't think there is anything wrong with working at Walmart if that's what you want to do. The ‘best' work in retirement is the one that matches you and your lifestyle the best. If you want to greet people at Walmart because you love people, then do it! If it makes you happy then who cares what others think. I know some extremely successful people who retired with significant amounts of money who do odd jobs in retirement, not for the money but just for fun.
One of my former clients cuts the grass at a golf course every morning not because he needs any money at all. He does it because he is an early riser and loves starting his day outside in the crisp Alberta mornings. When I asked him why he cuts the grass in the morning, he says, “It helps his golf game and jokes about becoming ‘one' with the course.” What I discovered was he also has a crew of young workers including his nephew who really looks up to him. His crew looks forward to his life lessons and stories over coffee in the mornings. He never had children of his own. Do you think mentoring young kids who look up to him might have something to do with his motivation?
In my retirement workshops, we devote more time to working in retirement because it is becoming a bigger component to retirement planning. Here are some of the issues we delve into.
Tips for working in retirement
- If you want to work in retirement make sure you incorporate it into your retirement plan. Far too often, we think retirement planning is about how much to save in RRSPs. There's so much more to retirement planning than just buying RRSPs. Make sure you know yourself and what kind of work will make you happy. Know your underlying motivation for wanting to work and then figure out what kind of work will satisfy your motivation.
- Work because you want to, not because you have to. I would argue that if you are working because you have to then you may not be retired from the perspective that it should be about freedom and independence. There's nothing wrong with working for money but there's a difference between needing the money to put food on the table versus wanting the money to go on a nice vacation in retirement.
- Find work that you enjoy and is fun. That's what retirement should be about. You've heard it before, it you love the work that you do, then it may not feel like work.
- Don't assume what you did for work before retirement is what you should do after retirement. Remember, retirement can be anything you want it to be. You simply need to figure out what you want it to be. That might include aspects of what you did for work before retirement but then again, it might not.
- Can you do what you are doing but just part time? For many people, they like their jobs but would like it more if it was just part time. If that's how you feel, maybe see if there is an opportunity to phase out of work towards retirement by simply doing what you are doing but just less.
- If you left work today, what about work might you miss? Some people hate their jobs, hate their boss, and hate the people they work with. Most people hate aspects of their work but also love aspects of their work. I think this is a great question to help you understand what you like or even love about work. When you recognize these things, they may help you determine the kind of work you should do in retirement. For example, if you will miss the people, then maybe that provides a clue that what you do in retirement should include people.
Thanks Christy for posing such a great question!