The Nonsense of ‘Retirement’

Accountability Authenticity Happiness


Key Point: I think much of the current conversation about retirement needs to be refreshed. I’m not sure asking “when are you going to retire?” is very useful or meaningful. On the other hand, there is reasonable merit regarding questions related to planning for getting older and the changes that go along with it. One day all of us will be in a position where we will not be earning direct income because we are no longer able or want to. And ideally we will have reasonable flexibility as we are impacted by deteriorating health connected to living and dying longer. However, that is different than “retirement.”

Because I’m getting closer to the 65-year-milestone, people are constantly asking me if I’m going to “finally retire.” Or they ask me if “I need to be working to keep active,” (like I need to punch a time clock to ensure the vital organs do not atrophy… Geez). Sometimes the not so veiled suggestion is that I must want to keep working because I didn’t manage my money well. After all, who would want to keep “working” if they didn’t have to? Somehow retirement and choosing how to live gets wrapped up in the same sandwich. 

So what if we changed the focus about retirement, to living the life we want NOW? Whatever or whenever that is. The depth and breath of what we can really choose to do is certainly related to our bank account. But the idea of waiting for “retirement” to have better control of how you prefer to live is just giant dumbness. How would our life change for the better if we chose to live more how we want to on a daily basis? This includes meeting obligations in the various roles that define who we are AND making choices related to deferred gratification. In fact, people who can defer immediate gratification actually “accomplish” more. Yet, we need to choose more NOW. Drifting along waiting for something like retirement is the wrong mindset. It is likely to end badly. I recently heard an Olympic gold medal winner wisely note, that if you weren’t good enough for yourself before the gold medal, you wouldn’t be good enough for yourself after. If you can’t live the life you want now, it’s questionable that you will at some later date. 

Fortunately, I’m graced with the idea that all I need is the day in front of me. Give me the day and I will make it interesting and valuable. I do not understand the concepts of being bored, or waiting to be happy or fulfilled “one day.” That day is today. I’m looking forward to having another one tomorrow.

Character Moves:

  1. Absolutely plan for being unable or not wanting to earn direct income one day. It is going to happen. Remember to do so while living the life you want to live now. This includes deferring some gratification, but does not include waiting for so called “retirement” for fulfillment. It does require understanding that contentment and happiness comes from purpose, delivering value and contribution to others.
  2. Do not ask the question, “When are you going to retire?” Always ask what’s fulfilling for you now and what steps you’re taking to keep living life to the fullest.

No retirement in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: How many times a week do we hear “find out how to make an income doing what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Or banter about what we’d do with $500+ million when that office Power Ball collection comes wafting by? Funny enough, most people don’t dream of still “working” when imagining that bank account… But I too believe that unless you’re contributing, even if it’s through a passion of yours, then life would be boring and unsatisfactory. Despite how much we occasionally dread it, we’re not only showing up to the office for an income. We likely chose our professions because parts about them make us happy, and it feels good to be a relevant team player and help build something… No need to ever “retire” that feeling. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis.