Retirement for the baby boomers is likely to be far different from what their parents experienced. Work will probably be an integral part of everyday life, both to meet financial requirements and to keep busy during an increasing lifespan. Workers approaching retirement should plan now for their pending retirement career.
Most baby boomers (72 percent) say they plan to keep working in some capacity after retirement, according to a 2010 Del Webb survey. The top reason for working in retirement is to ward off boredom and keep busy, while financial necessity came in second. Other reasons for delaying retirement include self-satisfaction and enjoying the job. Some employees are planning to continue working well into the traditional retirement years. A recent Wells Fargo survey found that 25 percent of middle class Americans say they will need to work until at least 80 to live comfortably in retirement.
If seniors will need to work during their retirement years, the nature of the job becomes increasingly important. During our first career we discovered what we are good at, what we like to do, and what we dread doing every day. This knowledge can help us prepare for our second act. Here's how to select a satisfying retirement career:
Aim for a job you enjoy. In a down economy you may be forced to take any available job. But if you are lucky enough to be able to consider a job you might actually enjoy, decide what it would look like. What could you do each day that would make you eager to get out of bed each morning, with great expectations of exciting things to be? It is far better to start the day with an optimistic smile versus an anxious moment.
Avoid toxic situations. Decide what you would find personally satisfying in a second career and also the tasks you would dread doing. A typical job includes a mix of each, but ideally you want to tip the scale toward what you love.
Test drive your dream job. When you were younger, what did you dream of becoming? Although a ballerina or an astronaut might not be realistic now, think back on what it was you always wanted to do. If a certain career field still intrigues you, try to explore opportunities for a retirement career trying it out.
Play to your strengths. After several decades in the workforce, you probably already know whether you prefer flexibility or routine, independence or supervision, creativity or clearly defined activity, and risk or assurance. Look for a second career that has the characteristics you find most important in a satisfying job.
Try something new. Try to incorporate something you feel passionate about into your retirement job. Take steps to impact the direction of your retirement career, rather than just letting it happen.
Dave Bernard is not yet retired but has begun his due diligence to plan for a satisfying retirement. With a focus on the non-financial aspects of retiring, he shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement-Only the Beginning.