It seems like a lot of people spend their life thinking of and working toward “retirement.” The question is, however, what actually is “retirement?” It is defined in the Internet Dictionary as, “the action or fact of leaving one’s job and ceasing to work.” “Work,” however, is simply defined as a physical or mental effort to achieve a result or to earn income. So what’s a person to do…simply stop existing?
For the majority, work is something they “have” to do. It’s something that’s considered a four-letter word. They do it to earn an income and provide for their families. They long for, prepare for, and count the days until retirement so they can stop doing what they “have” to do, and do what they “love” to do.
What if work is something we truly love doing? It is said that the person who loves doing what they’re doing never has to go to “work.” Age doesn’t seem to matter. Sometimes, the more you do something the more you love it.
The problem with the concept of retirement is that so many people are stuck in the prehistoric belief that says “let’s sacrifice our time, happiness and ideal lifestyle now, because it will all pay off in the end.” What’s the end?
For some, the end means living well into their nineties. Others, however, face an early demise due to stress caused from working too hard. That’s something my father would call an “ass-backwards” approach.
Does that mean you don’t need to prepare for the future or any financial hiccups that may occur? Of course it doesn’t. This is what I do and I wouldn’t shoot myself in the foot by saying otherwise. What, however, if you were able to take the retirement “deadline” out of the equation?
If it were out of the equation, you would be able to top worrying about not having enough because you would be able to keep earning income doing what you loved to do until YOU decided you didn’t want to or couldn’t do it anymore. There would be no 62, 65, or 67 retirement ages. These age deadlines were created at a time when only 53% of men and 60% of women made it to 65.
For a lot of people, they work when they’re younger to achieve a greater job. Many people are making a lot more money in their 60’s and 70’s than they ever made in the years prior to them. By the time they reach what they truly love doing, someone pats them on the back and hands them a gold watch. They’re forced to stop doing what they love. If you’re one of these people, instead of “work” being the bad word, “retirement” is the word you dread.
If you want to take “retirement” out of your vocabulary, here are three very simple things you need to do now:
Concentrate on disassociating your age with how productive society thinks you are. Sounds too simple, right? Remember that you are the wisest people in your workforce. You have the most life experience when you are in your “later” years. I didn’t use the “R” word because it isn’t relevant. Just believe in yourself and the fact that truly your best is yet to come.
Retirement is really a force-fed life goal. A multi-billion dollar industry is built on it. Stop considering retirement as a goal. Instead, replace it with shorter duration significant life milestones. In Stephen
Covey’s famous book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” he really puts the meaning of life into perspective. He asks what you would want the four most significant people to say at your funeral. What is your legacy? What do you want to be? You should keep the end in mind, and fill the time up to that point with meaningful, fulfilling, and significant action.
You are NOT defined by your job or your profession. My fiancé of 13 years was a high-powered, influential “C” suite executive of one of the largest healthcare organizations in the northeast. Cancer happened to her and our lives changed literally overnight. A diagnosis like that is devastating. Through it, however, we found a profound silver lining. The battle with cancer has given her/us time or reflection. She/we have come to realize that her perception of self-worth was based solely on her job status. Now we are self-employed and work jobs we absolutely love. We have tons of time to do things that are really important in life.
The problem is too many people feel safe in their current jobs because they make enough money even if they hate them. Don’t be afraid to stop doing what you hate and start doing what you love. Sit down and write out the things you choose to do. What do you enjoy doing on the weekends? What do you look forward to taking part in? Get creative and see how you can make an income doing those things. You’ll figure it out if you truly want to.
If you ask yourself if your work is something you want to stop doing, what is the answer? If the answer is “yes” then you should definitely take inventory. Your work should be something you don’t ever want to stop doing! Only you can make that happen.