The New Face of Work in Retirement

Recently, I was talking to an acquaintance who was saying that she was thinking about retiring from 30 year tenure working in a school. Even if she ‘retired,’ she would most likely get another job. She thought she might work for a doctor. Work in retirement is here.

With as many as 75% of baby boomers reporting they will continue to work after retirement, we need to change the definition of that word. In addition, we are rethinking this phase of life. Clearly, the days of accepting a pension and heading off to the local fishing pond for a few years are gone. Unfortunately, the words we use no longer suffice to explain the experience.

As baby boomers approach retirement age, many are finding they don’t have the funds for a traditional departure from work. This adversity has actually created an opportunity for people to explore different options. Many of the baby boomers I meet don’t want to stop feeling engaged, active and involved. They are looking for meaningful activities, some paid and others without pay.

Baby boomers have changed every stage of life they have passed through and they will reinvent retirement. Here are some interesting ways retirees are mixing retirement and work.

‘Boomerang entrepreneurs’ retire from one career and then start their own business. This provides a way to subsidize retirement costs, as well as to stay challenged. I’m a complete believer in having a business on the side. It helps to eliminate some of the fear of income instability that is often inherent in retirement. But a word of caution, do not use all your pension or 401K money to start a business. Too many people have lost everything when their business failed. Retirement Life Matters has many advice articles and stories about starting a business in retirement.

Some new business owners want to do good, in addition to doing well. These new ‘socialpreneurs’ combine a social cause with starting a business.

Many boomers are turning their hobby into a job. This is called the ‘jhobbie.’ Recently, I read about a couple who travel all over the country doing barbeque and selling their special ‘sauce.’ What hobby or passion do you have that you could use to make extra money?

In the ‘playcheck,’ retirees work part-time to pay for other activities. Many boomers want to work part-time to supplement their income, but also to stay connected. While we usually think of the playcheck job as low skill level, a.k.a. greeter at Wal-Mart, it could also include work like consulting.

Many new retirees are pursuing ‘phased retirements.’ In fact, I was talking to a college professor yesterday who is only teaching one semester a year. As the workforce needs change, this affords people the opportunity to experiment with retirement, before taking the final leap. Many employers of offering more flexible schedules, opportunities for retired employees to return as contractors.

‘Lifestyle Retirement’ are those people who follow a passion in retirement that maybe all consuming. This would include the couple who leave their home in the city to buy a cattle ranch or start a vineyard.

I’d love to hear your stories of combining work in retirement.


About Cathy Severson

Cathy Severson helps baby boomers find more meaning and purpose in their lives and work. Get your copy of her complimentary e-book Guide to Retirement Activities a comprehensive look at work, volunteering and leisure based on an individuals’ personalities. Call for a complimentary 20-minute consultation to answer your most pressing concern. 928.775.4949 or email Cathy at

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