For more than twenty years you meticulously planned for this transition. As your career developed, you put in the hard work and made significant contributions to your company. All the while, in the back of your mind you anticipated the day you would be able to retire. That day arrived with great excitement and full of hopes for the future. Six months later, you contemplate going back to work, and ask yourself “Is my retirement a failure if I go back to work?” Probably not. Failure is such a harsh word and failure is seldom fatal. Think of it as one more learning experience in a long string of unexpected life turns. There are plenty of good reasons retirees return to the workforce.
You’re bored. You went from active to sedentary and your middle is showing it. You’ve watched every episode of “Bewitched” and “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” You can only play so much golf. You love your spouse dearly, but realize being around the house all day long is creating friction. Going back to work maybe just the ticket to solve these problems.
Your company needs you. When you walked out the door your brain and experience went with you and the company now realizes what they are missing. What is second nature to you is a mystery to your replacement. Company resources and profitability are being squandered by your absence. They are willing to bring you back as a consultant. You get to solve the problems and teach others but would not have all the pressure and responsibility of your old job.
You need people in your life. We were created social creatures. Even the introverts need some personal interaction. Going back to work adds the routine of relationships. You rub shoulders with co-workers, you converse with customers. Re-entering the working world surrounds you with people that need your input as much as you need theirs.
You have an entrepreneurial itch that needs to be scratched. For years you’ve incubated an idea that will make the world a better place. With a steady income from Social Security and your 401k, you now have time to devote to your pet project. Will it fly? Who knows? But it will be an exciting ride.
You want to be useful. Before you retired you felt significant. The company needed you. Now you wander through your day with no aim or purpose. Retirees find great satisfaction in giving themselves to a cause greater than themselves. You can volunteer as a guide or docent at a local museum or zoo. You can use your business savvy in mentoring budding entrepreneurs. Many charities and civic organizations would love to tap into your expertise to further their mission. Talk to the pastor of your church about how you might volunteer. These wouldn’t be paid positions but they hold great value.
You need the income. Life has a way of surprising us with the unexpected. Whether it’s unexpected home repairs, unforeseen medical expenses, or taking on new responsibilities like caring for a grandchild, these situations can strain your finances. Or perhaps something more mundane. You started woodworking in retirement and now need to buy tools and wood to satisfy your new passion. Adding some regular income allows the 401k to last longer.
No, going back to work does not make your retirement a failure. Being active, productive, and useful brings great satisfaction to your retirement years, and the investments you make in a cause or organization can carry incredible worth to numerous others.