What Do I Do Now That I’m Retired?


A recent survey from USA Today showed that the majority of pre-retirees (72%) would like to keep working in retirement.

As co-founder of Ohio CareerConnect, a job-seeker’s networking group in the Cleveland area, I have met with hundreds of individuals over the past four years that find themselves in transition, and found three distinct groups of pre-retirees:

1) Have to work
2) Want to work
3) Don’t want to work

About half (47%) of current retirees are either working, have worked, or are planning to work in retirement. And, the majority (58%) of working retirees says retirement was an opportunity to transition to a different type of work, according to a survey by Age Wave, a research think-tank on aging issues.

So, what is the difference between the three groups? I have found that the primary difference is the degree of financial freedom, either actual or perceived, by an individual. If the person believes that they have not saved enough money, they want to return to the work force and typically are focused on finding the same type of job, paying about the same compensation.

The second group usually has sufficient financial freedom, but feels that they still have a lot to contribute. Marci Alboher, a vice president at Encore.org and author of The Encore Career and One Person/Multiple Careers, feels these retirees can “leverage their life’s experiences and skills to fix the world, or their corner of it”. Typically, this group tries different things, often for a short period, then moves on to something else. They also may be found in the non-profit world, using the key skills they have developed to identify problems, develop solutions and assist with the implementation of those solutions. These contributions, regardless of whether it is in the for-profit or non-profit world, give these individuals great satisfaction. They are contributing and someone appreciates it!

The third group usually has a strong degree of financial freedom and typically feels that they have paid their dues. They worked hard, were successful in their career and are mentally ready to move on to the “next chapter” in their lives. You may find them on the golf course, teaching a night course at college, mentoring younger workers in their field, or just traveling the world. This group has a pretty good sense of what they want to do and they do it. They are also more likely to have a hobby.

Joe Burgo, a psychologist in Chapel Hill, N.C. and author of Why Do I Do That?, may have summed it up best when he said “Don’t do anything only because you think you ought to or because someone else expects it of you. Make sure you wake up every day looking forward to your new job or find something else to do. Life is far too short to spend these remaining precious years merely fulfilling a sense of obligation.”

I am a great believer in the balance of life and I couldn’t agree more with Joe. Whether it’s a job, hobby, or volunteer mission, you should be passionate about it. Otherwise, you won’t obtain the level of satisfaction desired. My goal is to help my clients assess the level of their financial freedom and achieve the balance they visualize during retirement. If you would like to see how I can help you find your balance of life, please contact me. I look forward to having that conversation with you.