Let’s hear from some retirement age people about how they are thinking about working. From the 75+ interviews conducted with retirees, we extract a sampling of what is important to them. Here is how they describe how their work fits into their vision of a fulfilling retirement:
“I had to reinvent myself. It’s really almost a second life. I basically started a birdwatching tour company focused on Southern Africa. That’s a long way from Charles Bell, the diplomat.”
“I have to still work if I want to have the lifestyle I want. I like working. I like having a reason to get up in the morning. I became a wine country tour guide. It’s an easy gig really. I work two or three days a week. You drive around people who are in a good mood. You drive them to beautiful wineries, talk about wine, and that’s it. If you’re looking for a part-time gig that’s kind of cool and fun, it definitely fills the bill.”
“When I knew retirement was on the horizon, I went back to school and got a Masters in Sustainable Studies and Environmental Management. I was thinking that I would do freelance writing for different outdoor organizations. As of now, all my writing has been gratefully accepted, but I haven’t got any money to show for it. That’s ok because my teacher’s pension is quite ample, but it would be lovely if somebody wanted to buy something.”
“I had to replace the challenge of problem solving and just doing business and finding ways to make money. I realized what I wanted to do was this. I wanted to be able to do some business. I wanted to challenge my business mind. I wanted to learn some new stuff and have some fun. I wanted to reconnect to Cincinnati. I joined an angel investor group. The money wasn’t the number one thing, but money is a way for me to keep a score.”
“I still spend a lot of time ‘working,’ but it’s only because I choose to work. I do ride share part time. I do it when I feel like it, so it’s actually been fun. It gives me the chance to talk to people every day.”
“I was in the Army for 28 years. Now I have to do something or I get antsy. I’m at a point where I’m looking for a full-time job again. There’s a naval depot that is four miles from my house and I can run to work every morning. There are positions there that would double my current income.”
“My friend sent me an advertisement for a two-year mindfulness meditation program. I’ve been a lifelong meditator and I thought I could teach mindfulness meditation. That truly was transitional, creating a new identity almost.”
“I work part-time for a shellfish hatchery doing general maintenance and energy upgrades. My work’s really flexible. It’s only a block from where I live. I can do it whenever I want.”
“There’s got to be room in the workforce somewhere for our generation because we are active and physically aware and plugged into the universe. Meaningful work to me is a super important part of my life. Look how many things I’ve tried since I stopped working. I’m serious about it, but it’s a lot more like playing because you don’t know the outcomes.”
“I transitioned from working for others to doing my own documentary in Gaza. I did profiles of seven families. A single mother, the mayor, artists, a farmer. I really wanted to get a cross-section of what it’s like under siege and how life affected people, just telling it from their point of view.”
“It’s a matter of trying to discern what is it I’m supposed to do. Both from the standpoint of my higher calling and also just a matter of having plenty of days ahead.”
Dealing with change to your work:
There’s a couple of ways circumstances may change. Economics in these turbulent times can be a moving target, and the impact of COVID-19 has a way of changing your best plans. Your health situation may change too, and it could be that hauling logs is no longer right for you. Most importantly, your job should contribute to your joy in retirement or you should try something else.
Richard Haiduck has conducted 75+ interviews to find stories about retirees who are reinventing themselves in this stage of their life. More information, including a description of the upcoming book, can be found at www.richardhaiduck.com. Look for Flexible Job ideas here.