Retirement can be the ever-moving finish line in a professional marathon. “One day, I will be able to stay home, drink coffee and work on my crossword puzzle,” workers of all ages often think. For others, however, retirement is an inevitable event that will lead to boredom and days of watching “Wheel of Fortune” while eating dinner at 4:30 p.m.
Neither of these outcomes has to occur, of course. The glory of retirement is that it can be whatever you make of it. Be as lazy as you want — you’ve earned it. Finally do all those hobbies you never had time for — you’ve earned it. Start a new business — you’ve got the expertise. For the first time in your professional life, you answer to absolutely no one.
The financial meltdown of 2008 took away that freedom for many workers. When stocks nosedived, 401(k)s took a hit and nest eggs shrank. As a result, many would-be retirees postponed their retirements, a trend that’s finally fading. In 2010, 72 percent of workers age 60 and older were putting of retirement due to financial reasons. According to a new survey from CareerBuilder, that number fell to 60 percent.
If “The Golden Girls” taught us anything — though you can’t begin to count all the wonderful things they taught us, can you? — it’s that you can have a lot of fun after 60. Hopefully more workers can take advantage of the freedom retirement has to offer.
Another positive sign that workers are feeling more financially secure than they were in recent years can be found in the amount who plan to leave the workforce in the near future. Surveyed mature workers were asked when they plan to retire, and most see it happening sooner than later:
• 28 percent will retire within the next two years
• 27 percent will retire in three to four years
• 18 percent will retire in five to six years
• 16 percent don’t expect to retire for at least seven years
• 10 percent of workers don’t expect to ever be able to retire
Financial concerns are the primary reason workers are postponing retirement, but workers are taking other issues into consideration. When asked why they’re putting off retirement, mature workers gave several reasons:
• 58 percent need the health insurance and other benefits of their employer
• 39 percent enjoy their jobs
• 36 percent enjoy where they work
• 26 percent fear retirement will be boring
• 14 percent enjoy feeling needed
What to consider
As you can see, retirement isn’t simply something every worker chooses to do (or not do) for purely financial reasons. In addition to personal matters, workers also have to consider what their employers want. Twenty-two percent of surveyed workers say they asked their employers about extending their employment and 29 percent of surveyed employers are willing to keep workers on past their retirement dates.
Matures workers who are debating what to do once they reach retirement age have several options, and each one comes with questions they should ask themselves. CareerBuilder’s site for mature workers, PrimeCB.com, suggests workers consider a few things during this process.
“Do I know everything I should?”
Retirement involves many components, such as planning your budget and knowing the ins and outs of your finances. Consult your HR department when you begin looking at retirement because they’re experts on these issues. They know not only what you should be thinking about but also what other resources are available to you both at the company and elsewhere.
“Am I interested in a part-time job?”
The survey found that 47 percent of mature workers intend to find part-time jobs after officially retiring. Why? They want to stay active and also earn some extra money to add to their nest eggs. See what opportunities are available if this appeals to you.
“What can I teach others?”
Chances are you have more experience and expertise than many other workers in your field. After all, you’re about to retire, so you’ve seen quite a bit in your professional career. If you’re planning to postpone your retirement, look at the various ways you can share what you’ve learned with your organization. Let your employer know that you’re interested in conducting training seminars, being a mentor or acting as a consultant. You have invaluable experience that others can benefit from before you leave the company.
The face of retirement is changing. Not only are many workers waiting until they’re older to leave their jobs, others are deciding that they don’t want to leave the work force entirely. Retirement is no longer a clearly defined transitional moment in your career; workers have redefined it. Whether you want to spend your days taking vacations you never had time for, playing with your grandchildren, working part time or shouting “Self potato?” at the TV screen, you can.