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Honored Social Butterfly

Many Americans Try Retirement, Then Change Their Minds

Sue Ellen King had circled her retirement date on the calendar: March 8, 2015.

She had worked as a critical care nurse and nursing educator at University of Florida Health (UF Health) in Jacksonville, Fla., for 38 years; co-workers joked that she was there when the hospital’s foundation was laid, which happened to be true. So the send-offs went on for days — parties in the units where she had worked, a dinner in her honor, gifts including a framed photo signed by colleagues.


Ms. King felt ready. She’d turned 66, her full Social Security retirement age. She’d invested fully in the hospital’s 401(k) plan and consulted with a financial adviser. She and her husband, who had already retired, had paid off the mortgage on their three-bedroom ranch. They took a week’s trip to Hilton Head, S.C., to celebrate their impending freedom.

But her retirement lasted just three months. “I’d done all the preparation, except to really think about what life was going to be like,” Ms. King said. Days spent organizing recipes and photos, and lunching with friends, proved less engaging than expected.

So when her handpicked replacement needed a maternity leave, Ms. King jumped at the chance to return for three months. Now back at work in a part-time position she designed for herself, she calls herself “a failed retiree.”

Economists refer to this sort of U-turn as “unretirement.” (In “partial retirement,” another variant, an employee cuts back to part-time status but doesn’t actually leave the workplace.)

Life's a Journey, not a Destination" Aerosmith
Honored Social Butterfly

One of the worst things that I can imagine about retirement would be to give up a well paying career to retire and then, not liking retirement, going back to work part time or full time for a whole lots less money, benefits and seniority.


Has that happened to you?   How did you handle it?


Have you considered this before retiring?





Life's a Journey, not a Destination" Aerosmith
Honored Social Butterfly

I don't think the woman in that example did much to make a good retirement for herself! Did she have absolutely no interests while she was working, in which she'd want to spend more time when she retired?


I was involved in a variety of organizations before I retired, some in which I couldn't get more involved, due to work/time commitments. When I retired, I just let those organizations know I was able to spend more time & taken on more responsibilities. I became an officer in a women's club of which I was a long-time member. I accepted a town board appointment, which I'd given up before, because of its late meeting hours. I went for training at the local animal shelter, to become a volunteer. I began taking general interest courses at the local community college. I accepted all the mid-week matinee invitations my friends extended, that I couldn't attend while working. I was able to walk & bike more regularly, than when I was working long hours.


Unless someone has serious medical issues, I believe that a bored retiree is a lazy retiree! No one' going to organize your free time for you, like they did at work!

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