Front Photo: Clay Banks

A growing number of people are choosing to delay the traditional idea of retirement in favour of continuing to work.  This can be hard to understand for many people.

Comments from peers such as ‘Go and enjoy yourself’, ‘You deserve a break’ and even ‘Are you crazy!?’ may be common. Peer pressure can be lifelong.

Of course, not everyone has the opportunity to keep working.

In 21 Ways To Retire I explored why 21 people retired and how they adapted to retirement. The reasons they retired were varied.

What are some of the reasons people keep working?

In George Vaillant’s book, Ageing Well, he asked people between the ages of 75 and 80 why they were still working.  Here’s some of the responses:

‘I like challenges, the people, the money’

‘The field I am in is in an exciting phase and people want to pay me’

‘Since I live alone, my job is a sizable piece of my social life’

A writer writes, a painter paint. I enjoy teaching: this is what I do’

What are some other reasons?

Man sitting outside on a  verandah repairing a wooden chair
Photo: Mick Haupt

Enthusiasm and Goals

Having passion and purpose is a reason why some people keep working. Apart from financial reasons, they may really like their work, they feel appreciated and like to achieve goals.


The opportunity to learn new concepts, strategies and technology can also be a reason why people don’t choose to retire.  Challenging the mind constantly and learning can be pleasing for many.  In the book Ikigai (The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life) authors Garcia and Miralles mention that ’people who live to 110 or more talk about having lived intense lives and working well into old age.’


Work gives so much more than a salary. Social interaction at work should not be underestimated. Networks and friendships develop, and a sense of community usually forms.  Work can also introduce people to a wider circle of people from various backgrounds and ages.

Financial reasons are also a motivator to keep working.  

The rising cost of living is increasingly a  reason for continuing to work.

 In Vaillant’s book, however, one person had a particular blunt response as to why they are still working:  ‘Nest egg not sufficient after two divorces’.

The rising cost of living is increasingly a  reason for continuing to work.

Glass filled with coins and a small plant on a grey bench
Photo: Michelle Henderson

All Or Nothing?

Some workplaces are more flexible in their approach to retirement. Rather than a ‘goodbye work, hello retirement approach’, some are allowing more flexible employment arrangements. For some people it means that retirement is not a defined destination, but a series of steps.

Continuing to work rather than retire is a personal decision. It also challenges the myth that retirement is a destination. However, for many the opportunity to ‘keep on’ is very desirable, whether in a full or part time capacity, starting a profitable hobby or a home based business.

Passion, purpose, socialisation, financial reasons and keeping the mind and body active are drivers of a ‘new retirement’.

Plus Rejecting The Stereotype

Some people don’t like to ‘conform’ to expectations based on their age.

Read about George’s experience here

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