First Person: How Career Satisfaction Defines My Retirement

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It took me a while, but I finally found a career that not only can I tolerate but that I actually enjoy. While the pay may not be quite where I'd like it to be, being able to work as my own boss (as a self-employed individual) certainly helps to make up for a lower salary.

In a way, being satisfied with my job and career direction defines how I look at my retirement. While others around me try to scramble to fund their retirements as quickly as possible, like the tortoise in the Aesop's Fable "The Tortoise and the Hare", I'm content to plod along -- slow and steady, yet happy -- toward my retirement goals.

Salary and Happiness vs. Time

As a self-employed individual, I certainly have a lower salary compared to when I was employed previously in the hospitality business. However, I like what I do and want to keep doing it. This sets me apart from many of those still left in what one might consider the typical working world.

As a self-employed individual, I have more control over when, how, and where I work. I can work from home or when on vacation. I can care for our kids during the day. I can churn out the productivity in the morning and then enjoy time with the family in the afternoon.

While this career satisfaction might hurt me when it comes to income and benefits now, it can pay off in other ways down the road through things like not minding working during what others might consider their retirement years. I'm actually looking forward to having something productive to do through my work in retirement since I like what I do and want to continue doing it even when I'm older.

Working Longer Pays in Other Ways

But working longer might not pay off only in increased satisfaction through productivity in retirement. Staying busy is great, but having a reasonably reliable source of continued income during this time might prove even more valuable. While I might not be working to the extent I am now during my retirement-age years, just putting in a few hours a day -- or even a week -- could provide additional income that could allow us to be less reliant upon things like Social Security benefits and retirement savings, creating a cushion between regular income and having to dip into our financial reserves.

Less Stress and More Options

I know some people who really don't like their jobs and would be happy to ditch them for retirement as quickly as possible. This was me before I started my current career. While I had a good and stable job, I wasn't really happy, and my focus was more upon just saving for retirement in an effort to get out of my current situation as quickly as possible.

I finally came to the realization that this was no way to live, and that's when I decided to change careers and try self-employment. With the move came a greater freedom. There is now much less pressure on me since there is no hurry to get out of my current situation. This allows me to live more in the present rather than constantly thinking of the future. There are more options regarding the time I spend with family and how and where we live. Not everything is just geared to retirement since we're relatively happy now and not just thinking of a future date when we can finally relax and enjoy ourselves.

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The author is not a licensed financial professional. The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader's discretion.


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