- One study found that workers who continued to work past retirement age experienced better health and well-being than those who retired.
- Another study found that people who continued to work in retirement had better mental health than those who fully retired.
- Additional research found that people who had retired and then returned to work reported higher levels of happiness and life satisfaction.
A study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology in 2017 found that workers who continued to work past retirement age experienced better health and well-being than those who retired. The researchers suggested that this may be because work provides a sense of purpose and social connections that are important for well-being.
Remember that old expression “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade”? Well, sometimes life hands you lemonade when you were just fine looking at the lemon tree sitting in your backyard. When an unexpected opportunity arises, perhaps out of the ashes of some change you’ve made, what do you do? What if you get a great early-retirement offer and you’re getting set for some leisure time, when suddenly your actual dream job opens up? Do you take it or stay on your relaxation path? Personally, I have to jump on it and hold on until I can’t ride that pony any longer, but we are all different.
A 2016 study published in the Journal of Economic Psychology found that people who had retired and then returned to work reported higher levels of happiness and life satisfaction than those who had fully retired. The researchers suggested that this may be because returning to work provides a sense of purpose and social connection.
Overall, while there is some variation in the findings, these studies suggest that continuing to work in retirement may be associated with greater happiness and well-being.
I have friends who planned very well, have pensions, and are wondering what to do with the money they are collecting in retirement, but they still have strong ambitions. What a beautiful problem to have. One now paints professionally and shows his artwork, another is a competitive golfer, and both are in their mid-sixties. I don’t know if this is still possible to do now, but it’s a great model for those wondering how to create a successful and fulfilling retirement.
In France, the retirement age is 62, but with the economy hurting, President Macron wants to raise it by two years, to 64, which has a lot of people very upset. I understand that having the retirement age suddenly changed by the government seems harsh; we all know that there is more to life than working, and I know many people who are very, very happy in retirement. For my part, however, I want to keep working for as long as I can. It’s important to keep busy at something, and for me that something also has to have value beyond the money attached to it.
I work hard to try to make the world a better place, one person, one column, one organization, at a time. I can’t stop putting out these words. This process has become part of my DNA. It makes me feel better than lying on a beach in Maui. That’s just me, and yes, I get a little remuneration for my efforts, but mostly it’s knowing that I’m touching people’s lives.
Another study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies in 2018 found that people who continued to work in retirement had higher levels of life satisfaction and better mental health than those who fully retired. The researchers suggested that this may be because work provides a sense of identity and a sense of control over one's life.
Everyone has to find their own balance and way of getting through each stage of life. When you’re young, you may think about retiring young with millions of dollars. That's great if you can get there, but why stop growing just because you have money? It might be better to stay on a path that fulfills you throughout your life.
The French are right: There is more to life than work. There’s contributing, creating, and continuing to enrich your mind and share that with others—and of course, you can do this in your retirement years as well.
I’m not quitting anytime soon. I continue to be grateful for all the feedback I receive from readers. It inspires me to give the best of myself, to walk my talk, and to humbly honor every word I share.
Wang, M., & Shultz, K. S. (2017). Employee retirement: A review and recommendations for future investigation. Journal of Management, 43(1), 191-235. doi: 10.1177/0149206316671506
Kooij, D. T. A. M., Jansen, P. G. W., Dikkers, J. S. E., & De Lange, A. H. (2018). The influence of age on the associations between work, work characteristics, and mental health. Journal of Happiness Studies, 19(4), 1085-1101. doi: 10.1007/s10902-017-9860-2
Coyle, D., & Lawless, M. (2016). Retirement transitions, gender and psychological wellbeing: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Economic Psychology, 54, 70-80. doi: 10.1016/j.joep.2016.01.004