Monday, May 2, 2011

Maybe It's Time to Think Differently About Retirement

I am starting to read articles now about letting go of retirement as a viable option, especially the concept of Freedom 55 and early retirement.  They bring me back to a dialogue I had with a client (lets call him Joe).  We focused on his perception that he was running out of time and needed to work harder and how it was creating unnecessary pressure within him.  He turns fifty next year and only had 15 years to go until he “retires”.  He went on to say he wanted to have the capability to retire at 55 if he wants to.  The irony is that his father, 85, still shows up at the factory he founded 50 years ago.  Joe’s father clearly has no motivation to pack it in and retire. Of course Joe is his own man.

This conversation made me wonder where the whole retirement concept came from?  

Since then the idea has evolved somewhat but it doesn’t change the fact that retirement is a made up concept that we have completely bought into.

Take a “Thinking Differently” perspective and try this on for a minute…

See your life as a seamless expression of activities performed in a certain locations, with certain people over a period of time.

When Joe did this he began to see his entire life as one complete unit with no segmentation. This new concept was very freeing to Joe especially when he realized that there is no waiting there is just living right now. 

I am sure you have friends who have “retired” early to travel, play golf all day long, and will refute what I am saying.  Consider this your friends never did “retire”, instead in realty your friends merely changed what he/she did, who they did it with and where they did it. Making everyday an expression of who they are and what they want.

Mankind has been in some sort of civilized community form for about ten thousand years, struggling to make ends meet and slowly improving life longevity. For the first 9,900 years we shared space with our loved ones, passing on what little wealth accumulated, working till we dropped, and doing what we could to pass on knowledge.  Then approx 120 years ago, the German Chancellor Bismark had an idea.  He decides to pay any one who lives over the age of 70 an annual amount of money and the concept of retirement was born.

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