Retirement Should be Replaced with “Living the Life You Want”

Caribbean Beach

If there’s one word that I think should be erased from existence, it’s retirement.  Retirement is defined in the dictionary as “the act of ending your working or professional career: the act of retiring.”  The word “ending” simply doesn’t sit well with me nor does this perception of our careers and investments being based on that crucial retirement age.  We are made to believe that our entire working lives are for us to save up for the time we don’t have to work.  A time when we’re supposed to kick back and relax.  But is that really what all of us want?  To just stop?  The times in our lives when we feel most wanted, desired, and useful is often when we’re working or at least when we’re active.  It’s no wonder that a huge majority of retirees have reported that they are bored in retirement.  And it’s also no surprise that a large portion of retirees wind up taking some sort of part time work after their careers are over.   Some say it’s because of money but you’d be surprised at how many do it because they just want to get back into the mix.   But let’s get back to the dreaded word “retirement.” Here’s what 99% of media outlets push to the public when it comes to retirement.

You must save X for your retirement.  You have to do this, that, and the other in order to have a comfortable retirement.  They’ll tout formulas and tell you that if you have this much money going into this fund earning this much of an annual return then here’s how much you’ll have for retirement.   They’ll tell you that you have to have X times your annual salary to survive your retirement lives.  It’s all designed to be some set goal that we’re all trying to shoot for.  The problem is that we’re shooting for the “end.”

The truth is, if I were to retire in the traditional sense of the word AKA not have anything to do anymore, I would probably lose my mind.  But maybe that’s just me.  Warren Buffett claims he “retired” before the age of 40.  But did he really retire?  Of course not.  He simply closed down his partnerships to focus on working for himself and his own interests.  But Buffett never stopped doing what he loved and chances are he never will.   If you want to redefine retirement how about calling it “doing what you love full-time?”  If doing what you love is working, then shouldn’t a person have that right?

There’s a reason Buffet’s in his 80s, still kicking, and still doing what he does best.  Buffett’s career gave him purpose, direction, and fulfillment.  Why take that away?  Here’s another alternative definition for retirement: the option not to work anymore.  Isn’t that more fitting?  It takes a whole heap of pressure off the notion that there’s this inevitable day when work ends and you have to have the financial means to survive until you are dead.  Sounds pretty morbid to me.  I’d rather have a life doing something that makes me happy until the day I die.   So when you’re out there making money and thinking of your future, do not think of retirement.  Think of things that you might actually like doing.   If you can make money doing these things then all the better.

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