For various reasons, many of us will continue to work after retirement. We may want to work in our senior years to stay busy, we may need to work to replace savings lost in recent years, the choice to work after retirement may be ours to make or out of our control. A research study by Friends Provident found51 per cent of UK workers plan to keep working after reaching the minimum retirement age, their main motivation being a desire to stay active after retiring. “More and more, Americans are choosing to be ‘unretired,’ that is, continue to work full- or part-time after the age when they are eligible to receive full Social Security benefits.” Regardless of whether these decisions are the result of personal choice or not, the Center for retirement Research at Boston College recently calculated a very scary number representing the gap between where retirement savings should be today and where they actually are. The total deficit was determined to be $6.6 trillion dollars. In many cases, it is no longer a question of why work after retiring – the bottom line is you have to.
The road that is built in hope is more pleasant to the traveler than the road built in despair, even though they both lead to the same destination. ~ Marion Zimmer Bradley
But do not despair! You have worked all of your life and made it to retirement however it may be defined today. There were many positives in your career from the people you worked with to the feeling of accomplishment that came with a job well done. It is not unreasonable to think that some of these same positives can become part of your new retirement career. The trick is to distill the situation to the point where most of the negatives are done away with and you are left with a pleasant, even enjoyable job after retirement.
How to make the best job for your retirement career
If you reach the conclusion that after you retire you want to work or that you need to work, do not simply resign yourself to a retirement career that is boring or abusive. Over your career, you have honed and perfected many skills. You know what it takes to get the job done and have built a record of successful achievements to prove it. Leverage your background as you make your move back into the working world. Here are a few ideas to help along the way.
1. Self analysis – no one knows your likes and dislikes better than you so take some time to contemplate what you like to do, what you are good at, what you can do, and what you want to do. Do you work best left to your own devices or do you prefer guidance from a supervisor? Do you prefer to work alone on projects or are you happier in a team environment? Is learning something new and exciting or intimidating for you? Are you a creative force or do you prefer to follow predefined processes? Do you work better at a specific time of day? As a senior citizen, we may be physically limited as to what we can manually do in a job so that also becomes a consideration.
2. Analysis of the company – what kind of company and work environment do you want to engage with? Do you prefer a large or small company? Do you want to follow the same career path you were on or do you want to try something new? Is there a particular industry that you want to pursue? What kind of corporate culture is to your liking? Some companies are very formal and political, others more open-door-policy and free-wheeling. How far are you willing to commute? Remember the time spent in transit is a real cost in terms of time away from your family and life.
Once you have a good profile of the type of company you would like to work for, you can start building a list of likely candidates. To dig in deeper, a trip to the corporate website is an excellent starting point. You can find a lot of information by reviewing the company page, reading through press releases, reading executive biographies, and navigating the various products and services. Check social feedback by visiting Twitter or Social Mention or Google. Visit your LinkedIn account and see if you know anyone who has worked or is currently working at the company. There is no better way to check on a company than to talk with someone who has worked there. You want to get an understanding of what it is like to work there before you sign on.
3. Work toward a defined goal – if you are working after retirement because you want to, your goal is being met. If you are working to improve your financial situation, it is helpful to set specific goals for your retirement career. Maybe you want to add $X to your savings account. Focus on that, track your progress and reward yourself when you get there. Smaller goals along the way help to keep you on track as you achieve them one after another. If your ultimate goal is to get back to retired life and not work, calculate the amount you need to save to provide you with the additional cash you require. When you get to that number, I hope that all things will be in alignment and you can retire for real! If you can do this and if you want to do this, be careful to avoid getting sucked back into the working rut chasing more dollars than you really need.
4. Positive attitude – how you choose to face each day in your retirement career is a big determinant of what kind of a day you can expect. It is easy to be happy when you are off to do what you want to do. But even if you are not so lucky, try to think of the good things in your life and enjoy what you do. Work is not always a picnic but how you choose to deal with challenges in your day is mostly up to you. If at all possible, stay positive. Your smile may be the one that turns someone else bad day around!
Anyone who proposes to do good must not expect people to roll stones out of his way, but must accept his lot calmly if they even roll a few more upon it. ~ Albert Schweitzer
No one said life was going to be easy. There are no guarantees that each of us will live a perfect retirement life. This New Retirement Career can be viewed as a curse or a blessing. In the right work environment, doing what you want to be doing, chances are you will be just fine. So why settle for less?
Don’t forget to pick up a free copy of my Navigating the Retirement Jungle, available upon request by mailing to firstname.lastname@example.org.