My husband, Dave, and I went camping the last weekend in August at a ski resort in central New Hampshire. On our last day Dave went to the office to check out while I stayed outside and watched people ride the thrilling Zipline and explore the surroundings on a Segway, a super cool, two-wheeled motorized vehicle.
As I waited for Dave a friendly employee named Erin approached me. We had an interesting conversation about the resort. Then she asked the proverbial cocktail party question, “What do you do?” When I told her that I write and speak on retirement she was eager to share her story.
Erin is a retired high school physical education teacher. Like many teachers I speak with, Erin’s decision to retire was based on having maximized her pension, combined with her growing frustration with Administration. In her words, “If I could just teach, I’d do it forever.”
Erin told me she has a daughter in college who works at the ski resort in the summer. A couple years ago Erin’s daughter came home from work with a piece of paper and gave it to Erin. When Erin asked “What’s this?” her daughter said, “It’s a job application.”
Erin’s response, “I don’t need a job. I’m retired.”
Her daughter’s retort, “No you’re not. You’re unemployed.”
The verbal exchange went back and forth a few rounds until Erin agreed to complete and submit the application. Long story short, Erin got the job and believes it’s the best decision she’s made in retirement. In her role as guest associate she loves meeting new people and lending a hand with the sporting activities at the resort.
So, was Erin unemployed or was she retired?
Can she be both—unemployed and retired? What’s the difference?
Unemployed in retirement refers to a state of emotional joblessness.
If you feel a lack of direction, no compelling reason to get up in the morning, no goals or challenges to meet, or a sense of disengagement, then you may be retired AND unemployed.
Erin wasn’t looking for a job—she’s retired. But, she did need something to give her a sense of purpose, structure her time, and provide opportunities to engage with interesting and active people. Becoming employed provided what she needed. Erin could have found these benefits in paid or volunteer work. Money isn’t the issue. Life satisfaction is.
Think of employment as engagement.
Erin learned to view employment as engagement. By admitting that she needed more engagement in her retirement, she changed her thinking about employment. Retirement doesn’t always mean you don’t need a job. The best scenario may be retirement AND employment.
How about you? Is retirement keeping you from being employed—engaged? If so, now is the time to admit it and do something to change it! Just ask Erin.