For a long time, retirement has been regarded as the ultimate goal of a person’s work life. You work so you can retire in comfort. Typically, that would involve a pension and maybe a golden watch from the company you worked for. That is not my situation or the situation of many modern workers. When I think of retirement, I begin to puzzle. At what age? For what reason?
What are the reasons you would want to retire? I came up with these three:
- You don’t want to work anymore
- You are of age when working is hard
- You want to do what you have always wanted to do but postponed till retirement
I’ve tried on these reasons for size and realized that none of them fit me. What about you?
Read on, and let me know how you think of yourself at the typical retirement age and what you would want for yourself.
Reason #1: You don’t want to work anymore
Being an entrepreneur, I cannot wrap my head around the traditional views on retirement. I can’t imagine myself not doing what I love because I turn 65. How would that work? At 64, I am happy to be running a business, helping other entrepreneurs, and at 65, I would stop enjoying it? It doesn’t make sense to me that the age – a number – would dictate when I would stop working.
If you are not enjoying what you are doing, why are you doing it in the first place? It’s not for nothing people keep repeating this quote, attributed to Mark Twain: “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
If you don’t want to stop doing what you love just because you hit a certain age, what else may make you want to retire?
Reason #2: You are of age when working is hard
The age of 65 has long been regarded as the retirement age. I am sure governments had very good reasons for establishing it. The fact that we do age and our capacity to perform diminishes with age has to be accounted for. But here is where I turn to people such as Dr. David Sinclair for a different perspective. His book Lifespan: Why We Age—and Why We Don’t Have To is a hot commodity these days. It challenges the notion that by 65 most of us walk around with broken bodies and dull minds. Peter Diamandis’ conference Abundance 360 highlights the same message – we are living longer and healthier lives. If that’s the case, why would we not work longer, enjoying doing what we are doing?
By 65, you will have amassed incredible experience; you are still full of energy and vigor; and now you are wise too. I think it would be amazing to see what we can be when we are at the top of our game and still have a long way to go before we feel the need to slow down, whatever our mission.
Once you address the question of needing to retire at 65 because of old age or poor health, since neither may be true for you, what’s left?
Reason #3: You get to do what you always wanted but couldn’t
The final argument is you want to retire so you can finally do the things you want to do! Let me ask you this, then: why are you putting off doing all the things you want to do??? I want to travel now. And I do (minus the COVID situation, of course). If you want to take up a hobby, why wait? What’s stopping you from pursuing the things you want to do? True, maybe you don’t have the time to do everything you want to do right this moment, but if you plan it out over the course of some years, surely you can manage to have the experiences you crave to have before you hit 65.
The question is not whether or not you have the time. The question is how to make it work today.
Once I ran through these three reasons for retirement, I saw that I am not planning on retiring at all. It’s true that life happens, and perhaps I will not be as healthy at 65 as I think I ought to be. But that only ups the stakes for the need to experience life now. By the time I get to that age, it might be too late. Today is all we have, and I don’t want to miss out on all it has to offer because I decided to wait till retirement