Article written by Lynda Smith from 50 Plus-Skills
We all know that in South Africa the responsibility lies with you to make sufficient financial provision for your retirement. Most of us also know that there is plenty of evidence that staying physically and mentally active – as you are while you are working – will keep you healthier and mentally fit for longer. Other people might just not want to give up work altogether when they reach retirement age. These are just some of the factors that are working together to influence the decisions we make for our future.
So, if you do decide that either for financial or health reasons or just because it’s your preference, you want to work beyond formal retirement, what are your options and how do you go about it?
Well, the truth is that the options are about as vast as your imagination. Below are some ideas to help you think through what you want your retirement work-life to look like – because it can be any combination of work, leisure, travel and social interaction that you desire. The key is to strike a balance in these later years so that you can enjoy working on your terms.
One of the greatest desires for many as they near retirement age is to make a difference and leave a legacy. Well, volunteer work is certainly a way to bring fulfilment and purpose into your later years. Perhaps you want to volunteer at a local old age home, children’s home, hospital, church organisation or orphanage. Helping others is a wonderful way to appreciate what you have and feel like you are truly making a difference.
With your many years of work experience, you might be perfectly qualified to consult in the industry you worked in for so long and share your knowledge, experience, and expertise. You can decide how much you want to work, how much you want to charge, and you are your own boss.
Despite our large unemployment rate, our country faces a severe skills shortage that will hinder our economic growth and development, especially as valuable Baby Boomer skills retire. Coaching, either for a fee or mentoring younger people for free, is a way to make a difference and give something back to society and your industry. Coaching and mentoring are also a valuable way to help train up new leaders.
4. Part-time/ flexi-time work/ work-from-home
Technology today has enabled us to work anywhere at any time. We are no longer bound by the 8-5 schedule of years ago. With a computer and an internet connection, you can be in contact with your office from anywhere in the world at any time giving you the freedom to work when and where you want to. New generation leaders are less concerned about you being chained to your desk for eight hours a day then on you getting the work done, so you can work in your own time from a place that is convenient for you.
5. Downscaling to a less senior and less pressured position
After years of work stress and pressure, your retirement years are supposed to bring more peace and rest to your life. This might be the time to step back and take on a less strenuous position within your organisation. Negotiate with your company to see how you can still be involved but not carry as much responsibility and weight as you previously did.
6. Starting your own business
Now that the kids are out of the house and you have some freedom, this might be just the right time to consider starting the business you have always wanted to or trying out that innovative product idea you have been mulling over for years. At 50 you still have between 20 to 30 productive years ahead of you to build the successful company that you have always dreamed of. Put together a business plan, get the start-up capital if you need to, do the industry research to understand your target market and industry, and then turn your dream into a reality.
7. Working fewer hours or fewer days
Many companies might want to hold onto the skills of older staff members but not be able to pay their full salaries. Or you might still want to continue working, but not 8-to-5 five days a week. Many companies might be open to the prospect of you working two to three days a week or half a day for example. It will enable them to retain your valuable skills set at a lower cost to the company, and allow you more freedom to incorporate other aspects of leisure, family, sports and social activities into your life.
Most of us did not know what we wanted to do when we left school, or perhaps you never had the opportunity to study. Now is an excellent opportunity to study, either part-time or full-time or even through a distance learning institution, to get that degree, diploma, or certificate that will qualify you to pursue your dream career.
9. Starting a whole new career
It may sound crazy to start from scratch at 50 but perhaps you have always wanted to pursue something totally different from the career you had during your first half of life. Well, now is the time to do it. Get the qualifications and experience you need and get to know people in the industry that can connect you to the right people to launch your new career path. You only live once, make sure you are doing what you are passionate about during your second half of life, especially if you weren’t during the first half.
10. A patchwork of everything you enjoy doing
For most people retirement will look less like a second career and more like a patchwork of many different things that they enjoy doing. Your patchwork could include some paid work, some volunteering, social work and ministry, family time and enjoying your grandchildren, travelling, exercise, social interactions, and entertainment. The combination you decide on needs to bring more balance to your life – enabling you still to gain the benefits of financial reward and increased health and wellness from your work, but also enjoy having time and energy for the other things you love.
The most important thing to realise is that there are a myriad of options available to you as you plan your work-life beyond 50. Just take the time to discover what you want to do and then pursue it. The benefits and rewards will be well worth the effort.