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Will Working Longer Make You Happier?

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At a time when more Americans are delaying retirement, along comes this idea: Leaving your job might make you happier and healthier into your old age.

The number of workers between ages 70 and 74 rose from 14% in 2002 to 19.5% in 2012, and that number is expected to reach 24% by 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More than half of baby boomers expect to work until age 66 and beyond, according to Gallup.

If you are among them, you might want to starting thinking about other options. Staying in the same job for many years can zap energy and passion, which means you may wind up less happy and healthy than if you quit and did something new.

That’s the notion raised in an interesting article by Anne Tergesen in the Wall Street Journal. Many workers in their 50s and 60s are stagnating at work, but inertia, and fear, keep them in stale situations.

Of course, a good number of people keep working because they haven’t saved enough to retire comfortably. Concerns about having enough money, and perhaps health insurance, during retirement are real. But sometimes they are an excuse for not following a new path–one that might also include a paying job or starting a business.

For those that have a nagging sense that they should be doing something different, whether it is teaching, volunteering, writing a book or launching a different career, it is worth acknowledging what is preventing them from moving on. Staying put for a few more years might sound easier, but the rewards of a fresh path may make the effort worthwhile.

As Tergesen writes, “Many of those who have made the leap say they have emerged with not only a new path in life but also a new understanding of themselves.” That’s one way to be wise in your old age.

About the Author

Susan Price has been writing about careers, entrepreneurs and personal finance for more than a decade. She’s been an editor at BusinessWeek, Money, and, among others.