Enjoy the Life You Have Now with Reason and Purpose
I hear a lot of talk about retirement. It seems the closer I get to 60, the more it’s a topic of conversation. This is the problem with having so many ‘old friends’. I regularly get things in the mail from the Social Security Administration or AARP. This has to be a mistake. These things are meant for old people, not me. They must have the wrong address.
Most people seem to be looking forward to retirement. Often, it’s viewed as the target that we should be aiming at. Once we’ve reached retirement, everything is smooth sailing from there. We can sleep in, don’t have to get up and go to a JOB; no more rat race for us. I’ve worked hard my whole life and now I get the ‘retirement prize’.
I think this attitude about retirement is not only wrong, but misleading.
This perception causes us to focus on the wrong thing. It puts the emphasis on the pie in the sky future, rather than where it should be – living everyday of our lives to its fullest, while living out our purpose.
Don’t take this wrong. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t retire. I don’t even care if you do it when you’re 35. What I am saying is that it’s not a very good plan to make retirement your goal in life. You need be intentional and consider what it is that you want out of life and start living accordingly now.
Where did this idea for retirement come from anyway? That at some point in life (to be determined by someone else) you will reach the time to quit working (maybe receive a stipend from the government) and start enjoying life.
As is the case with most things, it’s origin had merit and reason. Historically, most people were forced to work for a ruler, required to serve a king or had mandatory employment to some dictator. This gave little or no freedom for personal choices or for the opportunity to live the life of your dreams. Retirement, as it is most commonly thought of today, can be traced to a program designed by Otto von Bismarck, a German Chancellor, in 1881 https://www.ssa.gov/history/age65.html. He felt that people who had spent most of their lives working with little or no choice, deserved to be cared for once they were no longer able to produce.
In most countries where retirement is a part of the culture today, people aren’t forced to work a job that they don’t want to. We have the freedom to pick and choose our vocation. However, much of the time people forget they have this freedom. It is as if they are still living in one of those situations and working for some overbearing ruler.
I think this is the core of my feelings about retirement. Things have gradually shifted from the freedom to do the work you want, to working for a dictator named Retirement. Retirement has become the carrot dangling at the end of the stick; the reason people work.
Just know that you have options; lots and lots of options. Don’t live for retirement but live the life you want. Make the choices now. Live the life of your dreams. The life that you were put here to live.
Early retirement, late retirement or work until the very end…you choose.