When will you not work in later life? For some in their 50’s, up to now their whole relationship to work has been actualized in an organizational, corporate or civil service context, either in one long gig or, as is more the case these past 30 years, migrating through several. For others its been a “calling” to a profession like nursing or teaching; or maybe it’s been running your own small business. It is true also that some work, a person may never “retire” from, like acting.
If your outlook is to work longer for financial reasons and/or because you need the stimulation that work can bring, then there are plenty of working models to consider. Perhaps the one model that creates the most opportunity is the “portfolio life” or “portfolio career”. Charles Handy’s original concept of this was first outlined in his 1989 book The Age of Unreason and further delightfully shared in The Elephant and the Flea (2001).
When opened and examined by Handy, our whole idea of working models is expanded – wage work, fee work, homework, gift work and study work. A portfolio is a unique blend of maybe the tossed-up opportunities of our choice where we are (as Handy says) “chunking the work” throughout several transitions of our later life to fit more with how our life keeps changing.
So in this model there are no “post work years”, no myopic planning for “maintaining our current lifestyle”. Then there’s the question – what is my life’s work?