Returning to Work

Opportunities for going back to paid work on your own terms are increasing as employers wrestle with how to handle the loss of experienced workers. The increased availability of work over the Internet is another opportunity for retirees, allowing us to work from a beach in Florida or a villa in Spain. For some, retirement can be an opportunity to explore a whole new line of work through self-employment.

“Golf was all I ever dreamed about. I knew all I’d do was golf once I quit the rat race. So when the pressure cooker got so overwhelming at my store manager job, I took the early retirement plan. And I golfed and golfed, but eventually needed more. So now I’m a high school baseball coach getting paid peanuts; just loving every single second of it.”                      

Mike as quoted in‘What to Do With the Rest of Your Life’ by Robin Ryan

Pursuing some type of work in retirement theoretically should be less stressful than pursuing a career.  You are no longer as driven by the need to earn and climb the corporate ladder.  Some prefer to take on jobs that are exactly the opposite of the high profile, high pressure jobs they had prior to retiring. One successful corporate administrator discovered that a part-time job in a gardening store was relaxing, therapeutic and a great way to get to know people in his community. A former professional librarian decided to open a spa. This allowed her to develop her latent business skills and to pursue a novel and creative venture that differed greatly from her original career path.

Consider your motivations for returning to work. Don’t just “escape” back to the workplace before taking time to discover what is really important to you.  A cashier’s job at a retail store is fine if you like the hours and enjoy serving the public, but don’t get trapped in a dead-end job that brings little in the way of satisfaction.

Do go back to work if . . .

Do NOT go back to work if . .

You want new opportunities to use your professional skills.

You have NOT YET carefully evaluated what matters to you.

You found your career stimulating and rewarding.

A job would significantly interfere with other appealing retirement opportunities

Work leaves you feeling energized and renewed.

A job would involve extra pressure on your time in the form of long drives, late hours, taking work home – remember, retirement should offer some level of personal freedom.

Work seems to offer new opportunities for expressing aspects of yourself that may have lain dormant in your previous working life (for example, starting a spa).

The work opportunities available to you do not dovetail with your personality and personal aspirations.

Work will provide a chance to spend time with amiable colleagues and co-workers filling a need for more social contact.

A job would interfere with opportunities to spend time with people who are important to you (a retired spouse, grandchildren, relatives or close friends.)

You are convinced that work offers an engaging way to spend your time.

Money is the only attraction – hold out for some kind of work that will also offer personal reward and still give you some control over your own time.

A little ingenuity and negotiating can allow you to have the best of both worlds.  In some cases, you may find that you actually make more money than when you accepted the limitations of a standard working situation.

The Same but Different

After her husband had a narrow escape from a frightening medical condition, Myrna decided to retire from her professional responsibilities and really enjoy life.  She and her husband invested in top of the line camping equipment and set out on a long cross-country road trip.  That first year they spent a month in Asia, took a cruise to South America, and went on several shorter camping trips.  Being fun-loving and resourceful, they had a good time and got all their household projects done as well.  Myrna says, “I never get bored, but it was bothering me not to be doing something worthwhile.  I caught myself pretending to be having a better time than I really was.”  

Within 18 months she was back at work.  She carved out the part of her work that she most enjoyed and offered to job-share the custom-made job with another retiree.  Her employer jumped at the opportunity to get her back.



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