Cheryl Champagne was 60, with 25 years as a finance manager, when she took an early retirement buyout package from downsizing Hartford Life Insurance Co. in September 2009. She received 18 weeks of severance and spent eight weeks gardening, taking yoga classes, and thinking about the rest of her life. “More than anything, what came out of that experience is that I realized I love to work,” she says.

Not everyone wants to work simply for the pure love of it. Some of us need to keep working for the income. Others, who have saved enough to retire and choose to work, just want to stay mentally engaged.

While we all may have a common desire to keep working, what motivates us to work and what each of us calls a “great job” is as individual as we are. “Different flavors of ice cream,” as my sister likes to say.

There’s no doubt, though, that work at an older age is becoming increasingly common. “Growing old in the 21st century is not what it was in the 20th,” says Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, Director of the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College. “As life expectancy continues to increase, older adults are healthier and more active than in the past.”

In 2012, 70 percent of workers (up from 61 percent in 2001) said they expected to work for pay in retirement, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s (EBRI) Retirement Confidence Survey. “Even people with retirement savings see earning a half-time income as a safety net,” says Beverly Jones, who advises 50- ...

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