You’ve decided it’s time to hang up the tools. You’ve been working all your life and it’s time for a change.
Which means retirement.
But, with retirement comes worry about what’s next. It’s a common question and the answer depends on your personality. Retirees choose different post-retirement paths based, not only on their bank accounts, but what makes them tick.
1. How common is it to simply leave your job and never work again?
It’s happening less and less. We don’t see a complete withdrawal from work as often advertised.
Example: A small appliance repair owner, continued to do repairs on the side. But, most of the time he was looking after grandchildren or doing hobbies.
The balance shifted towards his personal life, but he kept doing a few repairs for income and his own enjoyment.
This is becoming more common.
2. Workers hang onto employment for financial reasons, but there seems to be psychological reasons as well?
Retirement brings what we call “work role loss”. It means losing status-many say “I am a pipe fitter”, “I am a lawyer” and take pride identifying as a tradesperson, or a professional.
It can mean losing social relationships too.
Co-workers are friends and acquaintances. Without work, these contacts can be lost. And, some workers like being around younger people. Work was a way to pass on knowledge to the next generation.
3. How do workers typically handle loss after retirement?
Many suffer a loss of self-esteem, self-worth and pride at the thought of ending employment.
Being employed fulfills the need to be seen by others as worthwhile. We feel competent, active and useful when working.
It gives us meaning.
So, rather than go straight from employment to retirement workers use bridge employment to cope.
That’s when workers continue to participate in the workforce, post-retirement. It’s scaled back, but not gone altogether.
Stopping work cold-turkey works for some, but for many work fulfills so many personal needs, it’s too jarring to just stop.
4. How do workers decide what kind of bridge employment is best for them?
It depends on your personality.
The Status Seeker:
Some workers are motivated by status. They get a lot of social worth from work. Their position defines who they are relative to everyone else. They like being at the top of the social hierarchy.
So, they’ll choose bridge employment that keeps them at the top.
- For Example: A successful businesswoman decided to seek high profile speaking engagements after selling her business. She continued to rub shoulders with important people in her industry and stay current.
The Social Butterfly
Others like working because they feel a sense of belonging.
They get a lot out of being part of the gang. Workers who gravitate towards the social aspect of work, will choose activities that keep them connected to others.
- Example: A soon to be retired transit worker, liked the friends he made at work. He decided to go into some small business ventures with them. He stayed close to work friends and exercised his entrepreneurial side.
Still others like working because they get to teach or train. They like leaving a positive legacy by mentoring others. They are motivated by having contributed to the workplace or having assisted colleagues or leaving things a little better after they leave.
- Example: A soon-to-be retired contractor knew he would miss helping young people start in the trades. He decided to stay connected to some of the younger workers after officially retiring. He gave advice, encouragement and a seasoned-eye when needed.
Workers who are afraid retirement signals an end to life, use bridge employment to handle fear.
Continuing to work becomes a way to expand your lifetime. Workers can feel like they’ll live a long time, if they continue working. They’ll use bridge employment to calm fears.
- Example: An accountant nearing retirement noticed friends who had retired out-right, seemed to get older, faster. This scared him, so he began to look at starting volunteer projects after retirement. He had made helping others a priority during his career and this continued into retirement.
Regardless of what type of retiree you are, it’s common to have worries about what’s next. Try figuring out the bridge that will help you best on the road to retirement.
For more on this article please listen, below, to the audio from the CBC Early Edition radio segment.