There are two retirement-related words that have gotten a lot of attention in recent years, mainly because of the large numbers of retiring baby boomers. Those two words are unretirement and protirement. In this post, I am going to talk about unretirement which is largely self-explanatory since nearly everyone knows what the prefix “un” or the word “undo” means. To unretire, presumably from traditional retirement, simply means to return to the labor market in some capacity. Unretirement can take many forms and can be a return to part-time, full-time, contract work (in the gig economy of today) or self-employment.
Many readers probably assume that retirees who unretire are doing so because of a financial need, which is simply not the case. Several surveys show that over 50% of post-retirement age workers have done so because of factors such as boredom, not having enough structure in their daily life, missing their professional identity and needing more intellectual stimulation.
But it is important to look at the underlying reason for this phenomenon. To me, the underlying reason is clear. I submit that it is because most people ignore the non-financial aspects of retirement planning which makes up about 75% of our lives. Several studies have shown that most people spend more time planning their one or two-week vacation than planning for a 10, 20 or 25-year retirement. Pretty crazy when you think about it, isn’t it?
There are four main aspects of life that we all need to deal with: Financial, Biological, Psychological and Social. Of course, that is from the 40,000 ft level and each of those four areas can be broken down into smaller domains. The point I want to make here is that most people are simply not very well prepared for traditional retirement. While many people have a reasonably good understanding of how their economic/financial situation is going to change after leaving full-time work, few have considered the other three aspects of their life and you cannot ignore 75% of the retirement issues and expect to have a happy, meaningful or purposeful retirement.
So that, dear readers, is why I believe so many retirees are unretiring. They have not undertaken an assessment of their skills, interests, abilities, values and beliefs and how they can best put them to use during their retirement years.
Feel free to email me a topic you would like me to address in a future blog post.