Dolly Parton chirped in her 1980 hit about the daily grind we battle every day, with some poignant images I’m sure most relate to. How often do you “tumble outta bed and stumble to the kitchen” while “yawnin and stretchin”, in a rush to wake yourself up with coffee all just to get “out on the streets” where the “traffic starts jumpin with folks like me on the job from 9 to 5”.1 Most of us go through the motions every day and live for the weekend—you know, the time we have to do things we want to do. We begrudgingly deal with the work week until the day we can retire, always telling others that once you’ve clocked out for the final day there’s no way you’d ever join the rat race again…right?
To be fair, I’m writing most of this blog with my feet up in a chair, a cup of coffee near me, and blue-grey lake waters of Lake Cumberland lapping against the shore. I find myself in this spot nearly every Labor Day and most weekends. I often wonder how I can exchange my time spent sitting at a desk back home for time sitting right here, across from warm end-of-summer mornings at the lake. That being said, I know if I suddenly closed up shop tomorrow I’d be restless within a week—and probably driving Lee Ann crazy too!
The truth is—as much of a pain in the tail the daily grind can be—some of us just can’t shake the desire to work. In cases like mine, and perhaps yours too, maybe you like what you do. Maybe you enjoy the calculations or the fact that you’re helping others and hate the thought of being idle and just setting around. Perhaps what you do can be done part time? If so, maybe that could be a little extra spending money, during your retirement years, if so, all the better. Some studies now show that retirees who work in some capacity during their golden years tend to even be healthier, both mentally and physically.2 Whatever the reason, there are those among us who just need some sort of job or daily activity to keep ourselves happy.
Perhaps your current job is something you love, and you could do it forever whether you got paid or not. Or maybe it just pays the bills and you’re focused on the final day with a passion. In either case determining whether you can make it without a PAYCHECK is the number one goal of retirement planning. Driving INCOME is the point of retirement planning and however you determine you can do that will get you closer to that day of retirement. Finding out when work becomes optional is the primary desire of every family we work with and I believe it’s probably the desire of most or you reading this blog too! Maybe your position is something you wouldn’t mind doing part-time once you retire. That would be a great way to carry a particle income into retirement. If it’s not, find something you would rather be doing instead? If you’ve got that desire to keep working, find something that makes you happy—a certain position, company, or social cause that you’ve got a drive to be involved in.
Many retirees make the mistake thinking that their retirement dreams should only be about things like vacations or a new house. Your retirement dreams are your personal goals—and if that means continuing to be involved in the workplace, so be it! Working during retirement is optional, not forbidden. You’re in a position where you have the security of a retirement paycheck as long as you’ve got a solid financial plan in place, so you can focus on doing what you love rather than what you must.
While I love my mornings at the lake, I know I’ll be back in the office soon, and after a while, it will once again turn into a bit of a grind. But for me that works as long as I can escape every once in a while to recharge. The work bug is one I haven’t been able to shake for my entire life. It is a little ironic that while I help others plan their retirements, I don’t think I’ll ever permanently retire from what I do. Rather than feeling like I need to force myself to take things slower, I’ve learned over the years that we all need to face retirement at our own pace.
So this week, I encourage you to think about this: what do you want to do when you grow up?