Not all of us have the option to keep our jobs for as long as we want. I think of myself as belonging to a different, but equally exclusive club -- people who were forced to retire at a fairly young age. For example, Jimmy Carter who retired at age 56 in January 1981. Bill Clinton, who retired at age 54 in January 2001. And George W. Bush, who retired in January 2009 at age 62.
|Carter builds houses|
Of course, I'm in a much different league than any of these people -- they're in the Majors, I'm in Little League -- but nevertheless, I figure if none of these people felt too good to retire, then who am I to sit back and do nothing? If they kept active into their 60s and 70s and 80s, then so should I.
Besides, I need the money.
|Clinton fights global poverty|
That's true, but if you're really sick and tired of your job -- as I was in my last years at work -- then there's nothing to say you can't do something entirely different. A roofer can climb down from the ladder and go teach a course at the local vocational center. A burned-out executive can get outdoors and work on a golf course. A retired teacher can take a summer job as a camp counselor. A bored office administrator can work in retail at the mall. The corporate sales manager can become a real-estate agent.
If you don't need the money, you can volunteer to fold clothes at the church rummage sale or serve food for Meals on Wheels, or pick up litter during community clean-up day.
|Bush bikes with wounded vets|
I was forced to retire in my 50s. So, like the former presidents, I too have kept working.
I don't get the notoriety or the perks. But I also don't have to keep regular hours; I don't have to commute; I don't have to play office politics; and I don't have to deal with the eternal dissatisfaction of ambition. I just poke around with my old contacts and try to come up with a job now and then, and when I do get an assignment, it gives me something to do, offers structure for my week, and not incidentally helps me stretch my retirement funds.
Some people counter, if you're still working, how can you say you're retired? I guess I look on it as kind of like a summer job when you're in school. You're still on vacation; you don't have any papers to write or exams to study for; and you're not getting graded. Boy, I can tell you, one great thing about working in retirement is that you don't have to suffer the absurdities, and the indignities, of the dreaded "performance appraisal."
In the end, the reasons to work in retirement are the reasons why you work at any other time in your life. For the money, yes. But also to have some structure in your life. To make some friends. To feel like you're doing something useful. To belong to a group that's bigger than yourself. To actually make a difference in the world -- even if, as in my case, it's a pretty small difference.
All that being said, I must admit I am "underemployed." So if anyone has suggestions for getting decent work in retirement, or simply wants to share any of their own experiences, I'd love to hear about them.