For previous generations of seniors, "retirement" meant the end of work, period. The modern version of retirement often isn't that cut and dry. A growing number of seniors who have achieved total financial independence are "unretiring" not because they need money, but because working in some capacity makes their golden years more purposeful and enjoyable.
If any of these thoughts about unretiring ring a bell, it might be time to sit down with your advisor and talk about what returning to the workforce could mean for your financial plan.
1. "I'm bored!"
The "endless vacation" version of retirement just doesn't work for some seniors. Weekend golfers might find that the game drives them nuts three or four times a week. Enthusiastic travelers might get burned out by the hassle at the airport. Folks who want to get into gardening or home upgrades might discover that they’re all thumbs, and none of them are green.
There is nothing wrong with that! Your retirement is yours. If it's not fulfilling, then by all means, make a change. Before going back to work, I would encourage most unhappy retirees to sit down with loved ones or their advisor and reflect on how they're practicing their ART in retirement: Activity, Relationships, Time. Taking a new job just to "stay busy" might not help you improve your ART. But if you are investing enough of your resources in the people and activities that matter the most to you and you still feel like something's missing, unretiring could get you moving in the right direction.
2. "I miss the workplace camaraderie."
It's unrealistic to expect your spouse, friends, or family to replace the relationships that you grew over decades at your job. You and your colleagues spent 40 or more hours together, every week, solving problems, innovating, and achieving goals. You made life and business easier for your customers. You learned how to work as a team towards something bigger than the sum of its parts. And those relationships revolved around interests, skills, and professional goals that you might not share with other people in your life.
Unretiring could help you build a new professional network. Or, there might be an opportunity for you to take on consulting or a board seat at your old company. Just be mindful that unretiring will most likely place you in a different position with a different set of responsibilities. Think about what the older, wiser you can bring to your profession in a scaled-back capacity.
3. "I don't have a purpose anymore."
The retirement transition is rarely just about work. It's likely that other roles in your life are also changing. As you're learning to let go of being an engineer, executive, or project manager, your responsibilities as a parent or spouse might also be in flux. With your financial future secure, your role as a breadwinner for your family is evolving. No wonder the early days of retirement leave many seniors wondering, "What am I supposed to do now?"
Approaching unretirement from the right frame of mind can bring back some of that purpose and structure. Rather than taking any job just so you have a reason to leave the house, think about how you can repurpose your lifetime of professional skills and experience to fit this new phase of your life. Bring your executive experience to a nonprofit or a local government office. Use your medical skills at a free clinic. Take a teaching position or mentor the next generation of pros in your field. You'll still be doing the work you love, but you'll be earning much more than money.
However, in most cases, you will also be earning money. And new income in retirement can have a major impact on everything from your tax picture to your Medicare benefits and the optimal time to take Social Security.
Don't clock back in until you've met with your advisor at Keen Wealth, who can help you run the numbers and make the best choices for your money and your life.
Bill Keen is a financial advisor with nearly 30 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he focuses on providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.
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