8 Signs That It’s Time for You to Unretire

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After spending decades in the workplace, retirement may sound attractive. But many people develop second thoughts soon after leaving their jobs.

Just because someone is 65 or older doesn’t mean they’re ready to stop working. Some people miss their workplace colleagues and the sense of purpose that came from holding a job.

“If you’re an energetic person who wants to feel alive, you’re not going to feel happy sitting back and watching TV in retirement,” said Liliane Choney, executive director of ReVisions Resources, a nonprofit organization that helps seniors live independently.

If you’re motivated and in good health, returning to work is often the right thing to do. Here are some signs that it is time to unretire.

1. You’re having trouble making ends meet

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Many people have trouble saving enough money to finance their retirement. Typically, Social Security benefits don’t provide enough income to maintain your lifestyle in retirement. Also, if you had children late in life, you may even face college expenses after leaving work.

One solution is to work a few years longer. That way, you can boost your income and gain more time to save money. Each year spent on the job means one less year you’ll need to rely on savings during retirement.

2. You’re becoming too sedentary

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One benefit of going back to work is that it may improve your health. According to the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, many published studies suggest a connection between job satisfaction and good health.

Idle people are more prone to illness. Some retirees are able to replace work activities with pastimes that keep them active, but not everyone is good at making the transition.

A study of individuals age 50 and older by the Harvard School of Public Health found that those who had stopped working were 40% more likely to have heart attacks or strokes than those who continued their careers.

3. You can’t adjust to your new life

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Adjusting to life without a work schedule can be difficult. Some people pursue hobbies in retirement or fill their time with travel. But not everyone enjoys such activities.

If you’re bored and unhappy without a work schedule, you might be better off rejoining the workforce. For some, the right solution is going back to work part time, says economist Eric Tyson. This helps people gradually adjust to life in retirement.

4. You’ve lost social connections

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Losing relationships with work colleagues can leave you feeling lost and lonely.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, isolation and loneliness:

  • increase your risk of premature death by a level similar to smoking and obesity
  • are associated with a 50% higher risk of dementia
  • are associated with a 29% increased risk of heart disease
  • are associated with a 32% increased risk of stroke
  • are associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide

If you miss work colleagues and have trouble making new friends, going back to work could make you happier and healthier.

5. You love being in the workplace

Older woman working at a florist shop
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If you were lucky enough to enjoy what you did for a living, it’s understandable that you’d want to return to the workplace. Some people don’t realize how much they like working until they stop, says Tyson.

After retirement, you may find yourself longing for old work activities — even the ones you didn’t appreciate before retiring.

6. You’re ready to start over in the workplace

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Returning to work after retirement is a challenge. Once you’re out of the workplace, it can be hard to get back in, so you need to be highly motivated.

You may face age discrimination. Among older workers surveyed by AARP, not getting hired is the most common type of age discrimination they have experienced.

If you have been retired a year or longer, be prepared to address the “employment gap” on your resume. This may cause potential employers to question your dedication or willingness to remain on the job for a reasonable period of time.

“If you tell people, ‘I wanted to retire, but then I realized I missed working,’ employers are open to that,” says Tyson.

7. You have a great idea for a new business

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If you have decades of valuable experience working for others, now may be the time to put it to use for yourself by starting a business.

If you have a genuinely good idea for a business, age should be no barrier. Your business plan should explain why your idea is a good one, how the business will operate and what your anticipated expenses and earnings will be. Just be cautious.

“You have to really be mindful of whether you have the experience to do it and how realistic [the idea] is,” Choney says.

8. It’s time to pursue your passion

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Young adults raising families are reluctant to abandon the security of steady jobs to pursue risky careers, even if that is where their passions lie.

Once you have a secure retirement income from Social Security benefits, investments and/or a pension, you gain the freedom to take a chance on a passion-driven career — such as chef, artist or performer.

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