Retirement – A Fatal Mistake?
Are you making this ultimate retirement mistake?
A lack of money, poor health, and having nothing to do; these are the things retirees worry about.
How do I know? I’ve been there. I experienced retirement first-hand, and I hated it.
Since ‘unretiring’, I’ve spent my days studying this complex life stage and finding out what 21,000 people across the globe think of life after work. These retirees told me they were extremely concerned about their health, worried about outliving their savings and troubled by a lack of purpose in their life. Over half wished for better health, one in six for better finances and one in three for a more fulfilling life.
Statistics aside, the thing that most concerned me was the fact that nearly all these people felt they had made mistakes in retirement because the reality they face is completely different to the dream they were sold. The one they’d been promised all their working life. They thought they would sail off into the sunset, into a life of luxury and freedom, but instead, they’ve become stuck in an existence that does not serve them.
The biggest retirement mistake
To all these people, I say the same thing. You haven’t made mistakes in retirement, but in choosing to retire in the first place and that mistake can be easily rectified.
In my opinion, retirement today is a mistake because almost all of us will outlive our savings. Life expectancy has risen to eighty-three years in the US and UK and is expected to reach one hundred in the not-too-distant future. Very few of us have the funds to sustain ourselves for that amount of time, meaning, that unless we choose a different path, we’ll face poverty at the worst possible time in our lives.
Thirty years is a lot of time to fill and given many of us will live that long after we finish work, we need to find a purpose. If we don’t, we will spend our days worrying about health and money. Little problems will become big ones and our subconscious mind, which never stops, will become preoccupied with our troubles, leading us to despair.
When we retire, we withdraw, we lose purpose and passion. Our minds go mushy, and our cognitive abilities start to lessen. We start to decline, despair and ultimately, face death. These things don’t happen overnight, but over time they creep in and once they take hold, it’s very hard to go back.
When I retired, I found myself staying in bed in the mornings and taking afternoon naps. My health suffered, I worried more, and I started to disengage. Luckily, I caught myself and took a new path and that’s why I encourage everyone to do the same. Or better still, to not retire in the first place. It is, after all, in my opinion, a fatal mistake.
Outside the box
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses,” said Henry Ford and the same is true of retirement.
I asked people what they wanted from retirement – more money, better health and more purpose was the response.
To those people I say this – you need to think outside the box. You don’t want a better retirement; you want and need to ‘unretire.’ In ‘unretiring’ you will find purpose. That’s the thing that will bring you joy. It will also, in time, bring you an income and mean that you’ll spend less time focusing on and worrying about your health. It will improve your mental state, which has been proven to improve your physical state and reduce the risk of illness, heart attacks, and strokes.
The million dollar question
“If purpose is what I need, how do I find it?” I’m asked this question all the time.
Purpose can be found in doing something you love, something that brings you joy and a sense of achievement. Perhaps you have a hobby you can turn into a small business? Volunteering may be more your thing. Maybe you have years of experience in a particular industry which you can use to help develop the next generation. Purpose can be big or small, but it must be something you’re passionate about.
Everyone will find purpose in different things and in different places, but the one place it can’t be found is in retirement. Withdrawing from work and from society is withdrawing from life. That’s the complete opposite of what you should do. Refire, rewire, reinvigorate, and reinvent yourself. The time is now. Use it wisely and don’t make the fatal mistake so many before you have made – and retire.
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