When we hear “retirement,” we imagine riding away in our RV, the open road ahead promising freedom and adventure, making what was once a vacation into a permanent lifestyle. The stresses of work and the daily grind are behind us, and the world opens, full of possibilities and self-determination. That’s the dream—at least the one promulgated by advertising and the values of our society. It’s the aspiration we strive for during our working years.

But it’s not for everyone. Researchers studying retirement find that those who changed their mind and returned to the workforce have gone through a “burnout and recovery.” Once retired and recovered from the stress of their former job, many decide to return to the workforce with different expectations and sense of purpose.

Google “successful retirement” or “why people return to work after retirement” and the search brings up financial institutions and their advice on how to save or invest your money. But it’s not all about money. Purpose, identity, boredom, intellectual stimulation, loneliness, and feeling adrift also matter. Whether the financial resources are there, people return to work to feel more satisfied with their life.



This space explores how people retire. Do we ride off into the sunset, go back to work, volunteer, write a book, or become the potter we always wanted to be? With time and a renewed lease on life, we can reinvent ourselves in our retirement.


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