“Stay in the Game”

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game, or to integrate life and work to focus on a particular passion, the old model of “stop work and smell the roses” is obsolete, and frankly, very unhealthy for many.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 babysitting 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 twenty 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—is 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, 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.
  2.  The “stop work” model of retirement may be harmful to one’s health, both physically and
  3. 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.
  4. Traditional retirement brings a change in relationships, and quite frequently, puts added
    stress on a marriage.
  5. Particularly with individuals who have always been high achievers, once they retire they feel
    a loss of accomplishment and joy in getting work done.
  6. It pays to keep working, and for many Boomers, there will be a need for additional income.
  7. There’s a need to maintain some structure around one’s life; and some routines are worth
    keeping, like leaving the house for work at least some days in the week.
  8. Continuing to learn, and even going back to school, keeps you mentally and physically sharp.

Today, at the dawn of the 21 st century, 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.