8 positive reasons you should keep working after retirement

In this day and age, it’s not uncommon to reinvent your career later in life.

Whether your goal is to move away from traditional full-time work but remain in the game, or to integrate life and work to focus on a particular passion, the old model of “stop work and smell the roses” is obsolete, and frankly, can be unhealthy for many.

Continuing to use your mind in work is the best way to feel vibrant and healthy for the rest of your life.

The traditional retirement model usually consists of stopping work and moving into a life of leisure. Frequently, this plan — or lack thereof — might look like travel, golf, and part-time baby-sitting for grandkids.

While that may sound good at first thought, it is shortsighted. If you are 70 years young in today’s world, you could easily have another 20 more years of healthy aging if you live a life of purpose, have a proper diet, and exercise regularly.

Ensuring that “retirement” years are a healthy and active time in your life requires some purpose and a little bit of passion, most often created by some form of work.

In other words, staying in the game — at least part-time — can be a really healthy strategy. Research shows that people who stay engaged in some form of work live longer than those who stop work altogether.

Back in the 1970’s, I worked at a manufacturing firm populated by many long-term service employees, who had worked at physically and mentally demanding jobs for years. I played a small role in helping them to retire, and most of these people went right from a very active work life to what they thought would be a much-deserved rest.

But all too often I noticed that these people deteriorated quite rapidly once they stopped working, and were sadly often gone within two years of retirement. It became evident to me that without real purpose, some people do not last long after retirement. There are always wonderful exceptions, but for most individuals whose lives have been characterized by achievement, to stop working, means to stop living.

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of helping a number of individuals over 65, continue working through their 80’s — and even into their 90’s. Through my professional experience, I’ve found eight reasons why working beyond traditional retirement age is a healthy thing to consider:

  1. Today, happy people want a diversity of experience and the ability to cycle in and out of work and play.
  1. The “stop work” model of retirement may be harmful to one’s health, both physically and mentally.
  1. Being “out of the game” means you are no longer seen as a player, and with that comes the loss of friends and events that you formerly enjoyed.
  1. Traditional retirement brings a change in relationships, and, quite frequently, puts added stress on a marriage.
  1. Once people, particularly high-achievers, retire, they can feel a loss of accomplishment and joy in getting work done.
  1. It pays to keep working, and for many Boomers, there will be a need for additional income.
  1. There’s a need to maintain some structure around one’s life, and some routines are worth keeping, such as leaving the house for work at least some days of the week.
  1. Continuing to learn, and even going back to school, keeps you mentally and physically sharp.

A new model of retirement is beginning to emerge, championed by Baby Boomers who have created many trend-setting lifestyle changes. Boomers are not only recognizing that a rewarding life allows for a rich diversity of work and leisure, but also the need to develop a lifestyle that incorporates exercise and proper diet into a program of healthy aging.

With this new model for “unretirement,” we can have an active and fulfilling life filled with family, fitness, leisure, travel, education and work in an ever-changing mix.

Bill Ellermeyer is an executive career transition consultant and speaker. Connect with Bill directly on LinkedIn or Twitter.