Sunday, December 21, 2008

Work After Retirement

I have known people who through bitter life experiences have become cynics who are prematurely disappointed in the future. I am not one of these. Oh I have brushed up against adversity occasionally. I have never lost heart. Most retirement books focus on financial planning. Prudent but myopic. Having worked all my life in the not-for-profit sector, I should be close to pessimism if not panic given my retirement preparedness. But I’m not.

The books inappropriately project the idea that the last day of work is the goal. For many people retirement does not announce the end of working but rather a career and lifestyle transition. A retiree has multiple options, continuing to work but with fewer hours, returning to school, changing careers, venturing into an entrepreneurial pursuit, doing volunteer work, or just enjoying leisure and travel or blending all of this and trying new things. What’s to be cynical about?

If you have walked into a MacDonald’s or Tim Horton’s at lunch and been served by seniors and alternately by teens, I’ll certify you were served more effectively, quicker and more cheerily by the seniors. Seniors know how to work - more life experience under the belt. Pounds too maybe. A retiree never has to be concerned about finding a job. Many employees are looking for senior employees because they represent a wealth of experience with little or no necessary training.

Pizza Hut’s website contains a page that invites you to ‘Think about Coming Back.’ They are not talking about returning to scarf another pizza. The page goes on to say, “Sure, you’re retired. But that doesn’t mean you’re ready to stop working. Come back to Pizza Hut. We’ll make sure you stay active and engaged with people on a daily basis. What’s more, you can earn some extra cash—and have an incredible amount of fun in a lively atmosphere.” Look at the site for yourself.

Retirement doesn't always mean a complete separation from paid work. The way I see it through my graduated bifocals, retirement provides opportunity to continue to work by choice at jobs that you can enjoy. One in three retirees age 65 and older has a retirement job. Retirement jobs are particularly popular with baby boomers entering retirement. Eighty percent of Boomers expect to work in retirement jobs even if it’s part-time for either income or enjoyment. This is transforming the way people regard retirement, resulting in a new image of aging and the role of older people within our society.

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