Working beyond retirement doesn’t have to feel like work
4 min | 17 July 2023
Increased life expectancy means we’ll have to work longer before receiving a state pension, and take more responsibility for our own financial planning in later life. But is the idea fading that one day we’ll stop working – and earning – completely?
There's a well-known phrase: “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” The Japanese word ikigai (Opens in new window) also captures this concept – it translates roughly as “the happiness of always being busy”. It’s about having a purpose and direction in your life, achieving harmony between your talents and your passions to give yourself a balance you can carry on into your later years.
While the philosophy is more about feeling your work makes a difference, it can be applied to the idea of giving something back. If you can find a purpose that also generates an income, this might come with the bonus of relieving some financial pressure on your pension plans at the same time. So, how can you use the principles of ikigai to approach your life after retirement, giving you fulfilment and the potential to support your own long-term security?
Keep your work close and your hobbies closer
After retirement, the key to feeling like you’re not really ‘working’ – but rather, enjoying your life and potentially earning at the same time – is to keep busy but not feel overworked. You’ve left the nine-to-five behind, and it’s time to take things easier and enjoy your spare time. But that doesn’t mean you should stop doing what you love and what you’re good at, so the key is to tap into areas that could allow you to do just that.
In Japan, the idea of retirement as the moment to stop and drop everything is seen as the opposite to living a healthy life, in body and spirit. It’s just the way people approach it that’s different. The Japanese government encourages employers to provide job security for their workers until they turn 70 (for example, through business opportunities, social activities or freelance work).
So, what happens after this stage? The ‘retired’ often get involved in opportunities in their local communities – anything from growing and selling produce to working or volunteering for the benefit of their environment and the wider community (which is another key part of ikigai). In the UK you could think about how your skills might be repurposed – perhaps as a classroom assistant, in a community kitchen or as a carer or mentor, for example.
Plan now for the future you want
If you’re coming up to retirement and exploring what comes next, look at what you enjoy doing in your spare time – because those hobbies could become a source of income after you retire. You might find part-time work or volunteering opportunities waiting for you. And to back up your ambitions, it’s never too late to sign up for courses to help develop your talents and support your future in the stage beyond retirement.
Invest in tandem with your purpose
Whatever your working life looks like after retirement, you’ll probably have more peace of mind and feel financially secure if you have a good-sized pension pot to dip into. When it comes to your pension and savings, it’s generally a good plan to invest some time – and money – as early as you can into making them work for you, giving you some further security when retirement does happen.
Your life after retirement is a blank canvas and could be enjoyable for you in many different ways to when you were working. Explore the reasons why you enjoy the activities you take part in. Recognising these could help you stay motivated in following your passions or taking opportunities that mean something to you – without it feeling like work at all.
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