Returning to work after retirement: It is not always about the money 32



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If you feel a little lost in retirement, you are not alone. Some of your peers are even choosing to return to work.

Three years ago Brian* walked into my office with one major goal in mind; retirement. After selling his business and retiring in December 2014, Brian called me up two weeks ago to say he would be returning to work for two days a week.

There was a time when I would have been surprised by Brian’s decision to return to work given his previously strong desire to retire and get away from his business. However, Brian is not the first to call up and share such a decision. Understanding the key motivations driving some retirees back to work has been an intriguing experience. Interestingly, there has not been a single case where it has been for the money.

For those retirees I have encountered that have chosen to return to work, let me share with you three common reasons for their decision:

  1. To regain a sense of belonging

The overwhelming comment I hear from those that struggle with retirement is: “I feel a bit lost”. It seems that work typically brings about a sense of belonging and once this is taken away, if this void is not filled with a pursuit that provides a similar feeling, many people can feel empty.

  1. To keep the mind active

I have never met anyone that is eager to just sit around the house all day. However, I have found that even my active retired clients do not always get the feeling they are challenging their grey matter to its full capacity. One comment on the subject of mental stimulation that has stuck with me is: “Leith, there are only so many crossword and Sudoku puzzles one can do”.

  1. For a social outlet

Most retirees I know have very good social networks. They play golf, bridge, have regular coffee catch ups and the like. However, not everyone is fortunate to have these types of outlets for mingling.

I have one retired business owner who is now working two days a week at Bunnings and absolutely loves it, in fact by the sounds of it, even more than his previous work. Something as simple as having the outlet to converse with customers has given him a purpose that keeps his mind active and satisfies his need for connection.

I have found that when I talk to someone that mentions they are “feeling a bit lost in retirement” they seem to take great comfort in hearing about these common feelings and knowing that they are not alone. The reason why I chose to take a break from talking about share markets and self-managed superannuation funds is on the chance that these thoughts may resonate with some of you too.

I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on this. Have you gone back to work after retirement? If so, was it for the reasons above or for another?

Leith Thomas

Leith Thomas is the founder of Australian Financial Freedom, a firm providing independent advice and investment management services to those in and those approaching retirement. Specialising in self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs), Leith believes that knowing precisely where your money is invested is vital in controlling your wealth and your retirement.

  1. I’ve been retired too long now, approaching ten years, to miss work and doubt I would go back except maybe short term. I did miss it though for a while after retiring. The first few months I loved being retired, no pesky commutes to work, no timetable. After that though I missed the social aspects of being at work, the sense of purpose and even some of the travel which while working was getting to be a great drain on my enthusiasm. If I hadn’t moved away from the city I may have looked for work again but not many options in our town.

    1 REPLY
    • I have been retired for 8 months now and miss my work , the time clock and my schedule , the people I worked with. Does it get easier after a while ?

  2. I was forced to retire 3 years ago due to health issues and I was not ready for it at that time, however the only part of my job I miss is the beautiful kids I worked with.
    I have come to enjoy doing what I want when I want at my on pace and so I wouldn’t return to work now!

  3. Before retiring at 72 years for health reasons I made up my mind to join Rotary Sylvania we have a mixed group working together for Charity.I am blessed to be a part of such a wonderful club

  4. Retired for 11 years don’t regret it…time to move over and provide a job for the young people so that they can get some money into their super account. Not much use complaining about youth unemployment if you are taking up their job.

    1 REPLY
    • Where I work we can’t get staff. Worked last night as an overtime shift. A lot of our staff only work part time & we now employ overseas people .

  5. I have been retired for two months now due to health reasons. I really miss the social aspect and the company and the sense of purpose that working provides. My husband still works and even though my friends are retired they have retired husbands with them each day. I am struggling a bit at the moment but eventually I will get used to not working.

  6. I retired two and a half years ago and I feel lost. I don’t think I want to work again but I miss the social aspects and having a purpose by working. If anyone else tells me to volunteer I’ll hit them!!!

  7. I have been retired for 8 years and I am certainly not lost, nor do I ever want to work again. I now do what I choose to do and the time frame in which I do it. Having said that, I believe you must be ready to retire. You must have a plan of what you will do and have the resources to implement that plan. In my case I have extended my involvement in family history research and travel.

  8. I am so busy as a retired person I do not have enough time too do all I want.

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