I’m not sure where the concept of retirement came from; I’m only guessing that it was never part of the vocabulary prior to 70 or 80 years ago. This notion that we could step out of the mindless machinery that our careers have become and still survive financially is a good notion I suppose, but it begs the question of why we ever allowed ourselves to be sucked into that machinery in the first place. Also, the concept appears to have morphed into something much different in contemporary times. Now, it gives us permission to stop challenging our insecurities and lack of self-worth, both of which constantly tempt us to throw the baby out with the bathwater and step out of life entirely. And that metamorphosis occurred without a single word being spoken.
Is retirement sounding good to you? If you exit the job market and yet continue to be active in making a contribution to lives of people and the world around you, then you are not technically retired; you just changed your life. Warren Buffet is in his late 80s; any sign of retirement? Warren loves what he does. Jimmy Carter; 90+ years old as I write this, and still building houses for the poor and teaching Sunday Schools every week. Retired? He wouldn’t dream of it. He loves his life. Retirement is clearly for those who aren’t happy with their lives, but who won’t find the courage to make a change.
Here’s how that works:
If your goal has been the highest possible Quality Of Life for any period of time, you are likely living an above-average degree of it today. To get there you had to make a number of changes in your life , and found the courage and the love of self to make those changes happen. You didn’t wait around for some man-made concept of “retirement” to make them happen, and you would never “retire” from them at any arbitrary point in time.
The way that Quality Of Life works is this: when a change will enhance your experience of life, you make it—no matter your age. Likewise, when you’re enjoying the fruits of the changes you have already made, you use them to make a difference in the world—no matter your age.
But each of us must decide where the greater joy lies, in choosing an arbitrary point in time to withhold our gifts and step out of life simply because society gives us permission to, or to initiate a change that will make us a stronger force in the world. Knowing that is your choice, is there really room for “retirement”? Is there anything about the concept that acknowledges your power as a human being?
We are all personally responsible for the mark we leave on the world. To choose anything other than a life that furthers your one true purpose is to leave no mark at all.