Almost two years ago, I wrote a blog post entitled "The Retirement Boomerang." In that post, I cited a study that showed almost half of workers age 65 or above who retired "boomeranged" back to work. They didn't necessarily want to return to the same job, but they felt a sense of loss when they stopped working.
Many Boomers leave the workforce and then seek out a new career, or a second act, rather than pursue traditional retirement. My wife and I experienced this phenomenon when we left busy professional careers. We weren't ready to kick back our heels and drink lemonade just yet; instead of retiring, we started a small business together and ran it for about seven years before selling it. That was a great transition that eased us into a slower pace of life. Now I work part-time as a freelance writer and have time for volunteering and recreation. Like many Boomers, I take advantage of skills honed during my worklife, but I apply them to things I want to do on my own terms rather than pursuing a full-time professional career. I've "rewired" instead of being retired.
Of course, things have significantly shifted during the pandemic for many of us. Some Boomers who were planning to retire may be experiencing a whole different kind of boomerang -- having been thrown out of the workforce, they are thrown right back into searching for a position. Others who have been ejected from a job may see it as a time to rethink their future; statistics show that a substantial number of Boomers who feel financially secure are in fact leaving the job market permanently.
Even so, retiring from work can be psychologically disconcerting if not traumatic. Writing for Kiplinger, financial adviser Kara Duckworth says she is seeing an unexpected pattern in discussions with her clients: "Instead of worrying about whether they’ll have enough saved to enjoy retirement, they’re worrying about whether they’ll enjoy retirement at all." She adds, "For some people, retiring from being an expert in their field or having a prestigious job feels like giving up part of the identity they have worked very hard to earn."
Duckworth offers a few valuable tips for those who are having trouble coping with the idea of retirement:
- Consider slowing down at work instead of stopping completely.
- Try before you buy.
- Plan to explore new things.
Check out more of what she has to say in her article:
There is no single path through retirement, rewirement, reinvention, or whatever you want to call it. You have to chart your own individual course. And you have to be courageous enough to change it if things aren't working out the way you want.