Millions of Americans in their 50s and 60s are delaying retirement and holding on to jobs they have done for years. Many, of course, need the money. But many others say they simply enjoy—even love—what they do. And if that’s the case, why not stay?
The answer: Because jumping ship—even if jumping would seem to make little sense—could be the best way to remain productive, happy and healthy into old age.
The phenomenon of delayed retirement is well documented. Average retirement ages are climbing, and nearly half of baby boomers say they expect to work until age 66 or beyond, according to Gallup Inc. polls.
For the most part, that’s good news, according to academics and financial and health-care professionals. Continuing to work in some fashion as we age can benefit mind and body, as well as beef up undersized nest eggs.
But these same experts, and many older adults themselves, are discovering a downside to remaining at the same desk year after year—a tendency toward complacency, coupled with a reluctance to ask tough questions.
For example: Am I working because I truly love what I do, or am I simply afraid of change? Do the best and brightest staffers want to work with me, or do they see better opportunities elsewhere? Am I continuing to learn something new about my work and myself, or am I plowing the same ground again and again?
“Especially if you have been successful at what you have been doing, you start repeating yourself,” says Sherry Lansing, age 70, who walked away from a job she loved as chief executive of Paramount Pictures’ Motion Picture Group and now runs a foundation.
“You have done it and you know how to do it, and that’s comforting. But if you repeat yourself, the highs aren’t as high and the lows aren’t as low, and you start to lose that passion.”
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Boomer Retirement Life Tips (ebook edition)