Bored in Retirement? Here’s a Good Way to Return to Work

A study published by Cambridge University Press revealed that about 25% of retirees return to the workforce, with half of them doing so within five years. According to The RAND Corporation, more than half of workers 50 or older reported they would come out of retirement for a good opportunity.

Ah, retirement—you’re finally here! All those years of getting up early, working late and saving have paid off. However, after a few months, you’re a little bored. Something’s missing. Could it be working? What draws people back to the workforce, says the article “How To Retire From Retirement And Keep Your Balance” from Forbes, isn’t always the money.

The non-financial rewards of work, particularly work that is meaningful and rewarding, is what people find they miss as much as the paycheck. Work offers more than money. There’s community, purpose, meaning and identity. Take them away, and people miss them. If that describes you, you’re not alone. However, just going back to the workplace you left behind, is not the best way to go.

The transition back to the workplace will be more successful, if you take a thoughtful approach. Here are some steps to consider, to make a successful “unretirement” happen:

Why are you going back? Maybe you don’t need to retire as much as take a break—what teachers call a sabbatical. One woman, an attorney who retired at age 62, didn’t go back to her position with a big law firm, but to a local nonprofit organization with a focus that matters to her. She can do good, while serving a cause with meaning.

What’s your ideal workweek? Don’t get back on the rollercoaster, unless you really want to. What would your best life work week look like? Maybe you want to work a certain number of hours, or a certain number of days. Leave yourself the free time you want, after all, you’re retired (sort of) now.

Keep your best self going forward. Consider what you like about retirement. For one 63-year old who had retired at 60, consulting at a start-up was tempting. However, he did not want to give up his morning workout. He negotiated a four-day workweek and a later start to his day, so that his commute was not so onerous and he could continue to stay fit. He also discovered that his commute would be better spent thinking about work, rather than putting out email fires.

Be a mentor and a mentee. You bring years of experience, but chances are your sector has changed a lot since you began your career. Keep your eyes open for anyone who can mentor you, who you can mentor in return. Share your knowledge with others.

Retirees returning to the workforce is new for many companies. However, the opportunities for both employers and senior employees are still present. Just be thoughtful about what you want out of your work/life retirement. Ideally, you’ll find yourself with the best of both worlds.

Reference: Forbes (Oct. 21, 2019) “How To Retire From Retirement And Keep Your Balance”

Suggested Key Terms: Retirement, Workforce, Mentor

About the author

Bob Brumfield

Attorney Bob Brumfield has been practicing law since 1984 and regularly receives the “Top Lawyers in California” award as well as the “Client Distinction” and “Client Champion” awards from Martindale-Hubbell.

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