Some of the worst advice I have heard given to young people starting their career is “Find your passion and you will never work a day in life”, (or something along these lines) a great quote but not realistic. Life and indeed work is never that simple and as most of us learned through our lives, life is all about finding a balance between what we love and what we need to do. Retirement is no different balance is key. One of the worst managers I had during my 30 year career once told a young employee they could have it all. Family, promotion, social life, etc. Having lived through a career which provided so much to me and my family I had to provide some context to this employee. Life can be balanced over time but many times throughout your life you will feel out of balance. Chasing a promotion, more time at work, trying to finish a major project more time at work, training for a marathon, more time on the road, young children more time at home, aging parents – elder care time in nursing homes, etc.. It is not good or bad it just is the journey we call life.
We can rationalize the choices we made at the time and hopefully as we look back on our lives the choices we make in the moment lead to a wonderful and balanced life. A life with a happy and healthy family, a wonderful marriage/partnership and one where we left the world a little be better than the world we were born into. As we know you can not have it all, life is about making small discreet choices. No matter who we are, how much money we have or our status in life one thing we all have in common is scarcity of time, the choices we make to work will impact the time we spend with family and friends. In retirement have a plan for your time, how much will be spent working, travelling, exercising, etc. There is no doubt that as you reach your “best before date” when decisions will be thrust upon you. You may no longer be healthy enough to exercise the way you want or work the way you want. In VLR it is a unique time in your life when can have control of your time when you do not have to commit 40-60 hours a week to work. How special is that to have 40-60 hours of me time, when you get to decide what you will do!
When you are looking at work in VLR be open to try new things. Unlike our work careers where we had the pressure of financial obligations to keep us working in a job that may not have always brought us joy or fulfillment. In VLR you will not have the same constraints. Having a lifestyle plan as you enter VLR is great but it should be flexible enough to allow you the ability to try new things. Maybe you decide to help a friend with a new business but you find it is not bringing you the joy or satisfaction you crave. Make sure you can keep the friendship but don’t be afraid to step away to find something better suits your needs. Maybe you try to make a business out of your hobby but you find the time needed to make your hobby a viable business is taking away the joy. You have lost the motivation to paint, renovate, make, etc. Don’t lose your hobby but acknowledge that it is not a business, go back to doing it because you love it. No harm no foul.
Be open to look at work that may be out of your comfort zone, it may not pay as much as you would like/are worth but it is helping others, so it is feeding your soul and fulfilling some of your nine principles, great! If you are volunteering but don’t like how the charity operates, it is ok to move on even though you are doing good work. It is all about balance doing good things for a charity even though there is frustration with some of the work you do is ok, but if the frustration outweighs the good, move on there are lots of charities out there.
Finally there are financial considerations to think about when choosing work in retirement, does the employer have benefits, will your pay cover your daily expenses (commute, lunch), does the job require you to take on additional expenses? Generating a little income can provide “play money” and a little cushion for your investment nest egg. Make sure you keep your financial advisor involved and know the impact of additional income on your tax situation. Here are some financial considerations from CNBC on working in retirement. The Work Purpose connection is so important in VLR but it is ok not to get it right the first time and it is fine to do work or volunteer that is not a perfect fit. It is all about finding balance.