Many of us talk about retirement as the reward for decades of hard work. After working so hard for so long, the reward is supposed to be the ability sit around and do nothing — whether it's in the house you've lived in for 20 years or whether it's on a beach somewhere — until you die or a nursing home becomes necessary.
However, the “dream of doing nothing” that Office Space character Peter Gibbons has might not be the ideal retirement after all. Instead, you might be better off working than retreating to your haven and spending the days sitting on your front porch or puttering around in the garden.
According to a recent study by a British think tank, it turns out that you are likely to live longer, and even have a better quality of life, if you keep working in retirement. Without a reason to get in the morning, it seems as though retirement is more of a curse than a blessing. While some of that probably has to do with how much money you need to retire comfortably, it also has to do with the fact that retirement can mean an end to your social life, and even reduce the amount of physical activity you engage in.
Quitting might not be the answer if you want a good quality of life during your senior years.
Does That Mean You Have to Stay in a Job You Hate?
Of course, that doesn't mean that you should just stick through with a job that you hate. Other studies indicate that staying in a job you hate is also bad for your health.
Retirement doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Instead, consider doing something you love in retirement. You can keep working in retirement, doing something you enjoy.
One of the great things about careful retirement planning is that it gives you the chance to earn enough financial freedom to do the job you want, rather than have to work for survival. If you want good health in retirement, the key is doing something that you enjoy, and that you feel is useful. Do something that will get you out of the house, as well as promote some kind of social interaction and mental challenge.
To me, retirement isn't going to be about suddenly stopping everything and just hanging out. I'll probably write while I'm retired, since this is a career I enjoy. But I'll also (hopefully) have enough saved up that I can enjoy other activities, such as travel and volunteering. Plus, I'll be able to work on writing projects that I'm most interested in, rather than having to take on certain projects just to pay the bills.
Ultimately, working in retirement should be about choice, rather than the need to keep working in order to pay the bills. And no retirement is likely to be a long term success if your quality of life deteriorates soon after you quit your job. Figure out what you will do in retirement, as well as how much money you'll need. A successful retirement involves the emotional and mental aspects, as well as the physical and the financial.