August 20, 2010

Are You Ready to Pull a Bret Favre?

The man who can't stay retired, Bret Favre, is really not that unusual. He is not the first person to have trouble deciding to retire, or stay that way. There are many reasons why the decision to stop working is difficult to make and sometimes tough to maintain.

How would you answer these questions?
  • Do you really miss your co-workers?
  • Do you miss the challenges of your job?
  • Do you find yourself thinking a lot about what you left?
  • Do you need more income or better health coverage?

Relax, there is absolutely nothing wrong with unretiring. You aren't failing at retirement. There is no such thing. If it is in your best interests to re-enter the working work, then do so.

But, before you follow the quarterback who is famous for not deciding, here are some considerations for you. First, look at your motives. How you answer the questions above gives you a start at figuring out what you are feeling. Are your needs more fully satisfied by work, or are you simply dissatisfied with your retirement lifestyle? If you go back to work just because you don't like the way your non-working life is going, odds are pretty good you will be disappointed by your decision. It would be much more productive to correct what you don't like as a retired person than to avoid those problems by going back to work. Hopefully, you can find some help on this blog to make your retirement more satisfying.

Is it possible to go back to what you remember? A lot of folks can't. If you were let go it is likely you'll have a tough time recapturing your old glory. Maybe the company  has changed so much that what you liked is no longer relevant. Maybe the company was sold and downsized dramatically and has no place for you. Are the people you liked working still there, or have many of them left, too?

If the need for more income is a motivating factor, have you considered part time work at your old company, or another in the same industry?  Retired Syd, who writes one of my favorite blogs, recently struggled with this dilemma of "un-retiring" and took on a part time assignment. It seems she is satisfied with her decision.

How about consulting? I made a very nice living as a consultant. basically telling people stuff they already knew but wanting someone from out of town to confirm it.

Remember that your decision is not irreversible. Mr. Favre is living proof. If you decide that re-entering the world of the employed is best for you, go for it. Just remember, you can always re-retire whenever it becomes the best thing for you to do.


  1. Good points - I think the most important is if you do decide to unretire, you do it for the right reasons, not because retirement is not working out like you hoped. But there are people who do enjoy their jobs and the people they work with and if they want to keep at it, good for them! By the way, my son is a big Vikings fan and having Bret back (no surprise...) is definitely to his liking!

  2. Never, ever, throw away a Bret Favre jersey. I gather everyone knows that by now!

    I agree, Dave, It really comes down to the motivation for one's decision to start working again or not. Being unhappy either way is not worth it.

  3. Bob, I'm a professional in my early 50s, married in a one income household. Kids are now independent. I'm considering part time to ease into retirement; in part because of uncertainty about the economy and living only off investments. It's not an easy transition to consider for a conservative guy that hasn't experienced a lot of change in the major things: one wife, one job, etc. Your thoughts?

  4. My situation was somewhat similar. I worked in just one industry my entire career until I retired at 52. My wife was stay-at-home while the kids were young and then worked part time until she stopped working when I did. Our daughters are grown and on their own.

    In a sense I eased into retirement, but not by choice. In 1997 my business started to erode. By 2000 I knew I'd have to pump big bucks into saving it. My wife and I decided to shut it down instead in 2001. For those last few years my income was like a part timer!

    I have done some occasional part time work in a totally different field the last 4 years. It averages around $300 a month in extra income. More importantly, it allows me to interact with a group of people I normally wouldn't have been involved with in my earlier days and it is fun.

    Retirement is not an easy transition for almost anyone. I hope you take the time to read most of the other posts on this blog. Several deal with the transitions you will go through, both the good and bad.

    Two books I suggest you read are Super-Charged Retirement by Mary Lloyd, and The Joy of Not Working by Ernie Zelinski. Both are reviewed on this site. Click the link under "Books You may Want to Read." They will give you an excellent feel for what you are facing.

    I invite you to contact me by e-mail if you'd like to begin a diologue about all of this and more. The address is under "Contact Info" on the top right of this page. I'd welcome the chance to help you in any way I could.