Most of us have worked for the greater part of our life. Over the years, work has given us several benefits that have become such integral parts of our lives that they have raised themselves to the level of “needs.” A need is something that has become a requirement; if we don’t satisfy this requirement, we will begin to lose ourselves in some ways, and could ultimately get sick.
We must find replacements for each of these five benefits of work if we are to live fully in retirement. These five are:
- Financial Compensation: The first long-standing work benefit, and now retirement need, is financial compensation that enables us to meet our material needs. Usually, this takes the form of a paycheck. Unfortunately, many persons look only to replace their income benefit as they prepare for retirement. This myopia may blind them to the fact that there are four other benefits/needs they must also somehow satisfy in retirement as well.
- Time Management: The second work benefit is time management. Our work gives our life structure; it manages our time. Some would say that their work over-manages their time, or even commands their time. The fact remains that our work usually lets us know what we will do doing next Monday morning. The time management function keeps our life orderly and somehow “in-sync” with the beat of the culture around us.
- Sense of Utility: The third benefit of our work is to give us a sense of utility or purpose. Having purpose injects a feeling of meaning into our life. Our work offers us tasks that are needed in our society; somebody needs this work to accomplish such a degree that they are willing to pay you for your services to do it. We feel a sense of contribution; we know that we are useful…we have utility…we are of worth to others by bringing value or serving their needs.
- Status: The fourth work benefit is status. It is from our work that we accrue a certain status in our community. We have a definite place in the schema of the world. Status is not self-serving; it is not competitive, nor is it condescending. Rather, status is that combined sense of personal worth and identity we derive from knowing who and what we are. Each job in our culture has a certain status attached to it.
- Socialization: Finally, our work brings us in very close, if not constant contact with many other people; this is socialization. We interact with others, develop relationships, form friendships, and learn how to cooperate at higher and higher levels. Our increasingly complex workplaces demand higher and higher levels of coordination, connection, intercommunication, and interactions.
These five benefits do not go away simply because we retire; they have become a part of us to such a degree that we cannot simply discard them without some emotional, psychological, and even spiritual consequences.