Working at Retirement

September 8, 2017

We recently wrote about the unclear future of social security, which sparked some new conversation about retirement income and working at retirement. While the idea of working at retirement age may be daunting to some, you might look forward to the activity. In other words, there’s a difference between working and working for a living. If you need to work for a living, it’s because you haven’t adequately focused on retirement planning or because something unexpected happened. On the other hand, you might just want to work because enjoy working & you’re willing to do so. Wherever you may find yourself, here are some guidelines to consider.

work at retirement

Office Space – Source: Getty Images

I Want to Work at Retirement

Maybe you’re the type that believes there’s a kind of dignity to working. It keeps the mind sharp. Gives you the chance to do something you love and maybe even give back in some way. Here are three possible ways for you to work and make the most of your senior years:

  1. Look for a “bridge” career. One way to look at retirement is to consider it a process, rather than an event. Bridge workers ramp down their commitment level while leveraging their in-field experience. For example, a full-time professor might drop to an adjunct role and focus less on lectures, and more on writing.
  2. Reinvent yourself. Have you considered going back to college? Maybe you should get that degree you’ve always wanted. Do you want to start fresh as a civil servant? Run for a political office. What are your unfulfilled career dreams? If you want, your most productive years may be ahead of you.
  3. Volunteer. Giving back has never been easier, and the needs are real. Websites like might help you find a way to do something that will feel rewarding while you make a difference in your community.

I Have to Work at Retirement

If you need to work for a living, you have options, particularly if you have made a career as a knowledge worker. Don’t get discouraged, chances are that even if you’re working that you are working full time, you won’t have to do what you’re doing now forever. Here are some options for you:

  1. Arrange partial retirement. Like those with a bridge career, look for ways to ramp down your involvement. Do you need to go to the office 5 days a week? Or can you arrange a contract to work from home? If you haven’t read the 4-Hour Workweek, here’s a great book review.
  2. Find freelance work. Use freelance websites like to pick up work in an area of your choice. If you need to brush up on your skills, is often free with a library card and is full of great tutorial videos on a variety of professional skills.
  3. Keep working in place. There a number of retirement calculators online that can help you find out what you need to save before you can retire. Make a plan and stick with it. And while you work, find a way to work in a way that really matters – because psychologists suggest this phase of your life leads to either a sense of accomplishment or despair.