People do not think through their retirement very well. Many of us view retirement as some sort of strange, opaque panacea where we’ll sit on the beach or the boat all day, every day, happily earning 20%. We get this image from how we’ve been marketed to: the idyllic coastal locale with perfect beaches and even more perfect waters. Only this isn’t what usually happens.
What usually happens is we atrophy. We go soft. Since we’re out of the game, our expertise is no longer valued. Sure, it may be valued to our faces, but those still playing the game no longer seek us out as experts. We’re viewed as has beens; as people who had a great run but are no longer relevant to the marketplace.
When you’re no longer a part of the mental, physical, and emotional action, you atrophy in all these vitally important categories.
I always think it is sad when people are forced into retirement. I wonder whether they truly want it? I wonder how much more they have to give and contribute? I wonder how much better they still are than their successor? It should come as no surprise to whoever makes people retire, but most people are still bright, still vibrant, still in excellent physical and mental health at the dumb, arbitrary retirement age of 65. Worse, they’re sentencing these poor people to a hum-drum lifestyle where they are not a part of the mental, physical, and emotional action. And when you’re no longer a part of the mental, physical, and emotional action, you atrophy in all these vitally important categories. Yes, even if you have money.
Speaking of that, look at today’s money managers. Most people would categorize them as old grandpas. While they play that role, they’re still working. Look at Warren Buffett. Look at Charlie Munger. Look at T. Boone Pickens. Look at Carl Ichan. All these guys have plenty of money and yet they’re still working. Is it entirely about the money? Certainly not. They want to continue playing the game they love to play and contribute to. Retirement, to them, is anathema, heretical. Why would they want to leave the game they love to play so much and have developed decades of experience in? They’ve thought through their retirements because their retirements are nonexistent — they’re still in the game.
Many modern studies prove that working improves self-esteem and life satisfaction
As Eric Ries points out in The Startup Way, many modern studies prove that working improves self-esteem and life satisfaction. Take away our work, our contribution, and our self-esteem and overall satisfaction numbers take a big hit. Of course, they do. Even if we’ve worked all our lives, we don’t want to just take, take, take. Nearly all of us want to give and continue to contribute to our fields. For those of us lucky enough to love what we do, we keep injecting meaning into what we do daily. Note we don’t derive meaning from the activities. We inject meaning into the activities and actions. We do it for others who need our ‘A’ game. Doing it for others helps keep us in the game. Who are we doing this for? Who needs us to nail it?