Americans across the country — many of whom are celebrities — are jumping on the “unretirement” trend, where they leave the workforce only to come back. Anyone planning to retire may want to consider this option as a back-up, no matter how sure they are of their plans.
Retirement Tip of the Week: Whether you’re retired or right on the cusp, keep your options open in the next chapter – look at alternative streams of active income, stay connected in professional networks, keep learning or maintaining your skills and don’t rule out ever working again.
Some of the best-known athletes have shown just how popular “unretiring” is, while many older members of the labor force have returned to the workforce after leaving during the height of the pandemic.
Serena Williams, who previously said the most recent U.S. Open was going to be her last, nodded at the notion of returning to tennis one day during an interview on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” When the talk-show host asked if Williams would pull a “Tom Brady,” referring to the football superstar who retired after the 2021 season and then decided to return to football shortly after, Williams said Brady had started “an amazing trend.” She mentioned Brady again during “Good Morning America” when she was asked if she’d ever return to her beloved sport.
See: Unretirement has a new face – and it’s Tom Brady
Roger Federer, a 20-time Grand Slam champion tennis player, also announced he was retiring. Federer has not yet hinted at coming back to the sport. In fact, in his farewell letter he said he was listening to his body’s limits after sustaining multiple injuries and surgeries, but he has already secured income streams in retirement. Federer, who has been ranked No. 1 in the world for five seasons, has a 10-year $300 million contract with the clothing brand Uniqlo and an investment in the Swiss-based shoe company On.
For many Americans, returning to the workforce after retirement is a result of not saving enough for old age. During the pandemic, some workers were forced into retirement, either because of layoffs or the fears around long COVID-19, if they were front-line workers for example. One analysis found the pandemic had caused more than 3 million Americans to retire earlier than they expected.
For other individuals, returning to work is a way to stay active. When news of Williams retiring first broke, the tennis star said retiring brought her “no happiness.”
Read MarketWatch’s The View From Unretirement column
Not sure if you’re someone who will “unretire” one day? There’s still plenty to consider: For example, would you want to go back to the industry you left or try an entirely new field? Either way, keep your skillset sharp, such as taking classes at the local library, reading new books and trade magazines on the subject and branching out from what you already know. Also continue to network, even if it’s just occasionally checking in with professionals in your field or old colleagues.
“Unretirement” doesn’t have to be returning to a full-time job, either. For Richard Eisenberg, a MarketWatch columnist and co-host of the “Friends Talk Money” podcast, this chapter is a mix of downtime and travel with freelancing and mentoring. A few of the keys to his “unretirement” included understanding his finances, such as creating a budget that takes into consideration the next few years, and learning how to say no to opportunities he did not want to pursue.