Thoughts On Retirement

by Randy Murray on August 14, 2012

A friend of mine recently said, “I’ll never retire. Retirement is death!”

It certainly used to be. Only a few years ago it was expected that men (who dominated the workforce until recently) would work until 65, retire, then go home and die within a few years. My uncle told me the story of one of his friends who celebrated his retirement from GE, went home, and promptly died the next day, sitting in his recliner. This same uncle, a jet engine designer, has been happily (though forcibly) retired for almost 20 years now.

Historically speaking, this type of retirement was a fairly recent and a short term phenomenon. It only applied to some workers, and only during the most recent 100 years. For most other types of workers, like my ancestor farmers, you worked until you died, typically well before the age of 65.

And today, with the average lifespan increasing, being retired for longer than you worked is a very real possibility.

What will you do with all that time? And more importantly, how will you pay for all of those years? For many, the option of retirement, of ceasing to work, may simply not be possible.

For me, retirement isn’t about the end of work. It’s not even about the end of earning. Retirement may be an obsolete term. What may be a better way to think of it is independence. Becoming independent can mean a much more widely engaged period of your life. Yes, you can still play golf, if that’s your thing, but you can also take on other tasks and work. You might take a job as a grocery bagger for the social interaction and to have a few bucks to spend on hobbies or other activities.

Or you could, as I do, use the skills and contacts that you’ve made over your career and launch yourself in a different direction, earning a living, but doing it on your terms. From my neighbors’ perspective, I’m retired. They see me around the house all hours of the day. They typically might see me in gym shorts and a t-shirt. What they don’t see is that I have clients all over the country. I’m working every day, just not from an office and not for 8 plus hours a day.

And I don’t play golf. But I do plan to take on paying work that I enjoy doing over the next few years. I plan on not working when I want to do something else and letting my savings and investments take care of the expenses. Retirement, for me, is about not being forced to earn a living. It’s being able to live and do the work that I enjoy.

The Thoughts On Retirement by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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