Why Retirement May Be Bad For You by Bob Lowry
Well, there is an interesting title for a post on a blog all about living a satisfying retirement. But, in all honestly, for lots of people, the answer is that retirement may not be a wise choice, at least not now. It may not be satisfying.
I have taken the position many times that retirement is a unique journey for each of us. No matter how many books or blogs you read (!), friends you consult, or Google searches you conduct, the answer to your retirement success lies within you. The one-of-a-kind mix of your personality, your life to this point, your influences, your attitudes, even your spiritual beliefs, combine to influence this stage of your life.
One of the realities of that mix of factors is you may be much happier if you continue working until they carry you out on a stretcher. Your life might be fuller if you leave one job and start a new company. Your days may require the challenge of proving yourself in a competitive work environment.
Conventional wisdom says we are all ready for a break from responsibility and the enforced schedule of regular employment. Retirement is the stage of life when we get to indulge ourselves doing what we want, when we want. Travel, volunteering, writing, reading, playing with the grandkids, whatever makes us happy shapes our day.
But, what if you are happiest when working and being productive in a situation where you are paid for your contribution? What if not having deadlines or timetables and goals just doesn’t bring you satisfaction? What if retirement for you means leaving one job and starting another?
Then, go for it. The distinctiveness of this phase of our lives really means any path that satisfies you is the correct one to choose. What the majority of folks believe does not make that belief right for you. To follow the usual course means to deny your uniqueness, and that is likely to not end well.
Regardless of the way you live it, one reality of retirement is that things will change. Not leaving the work force, not taking the path most others choose may be the most authentic, most important choice for you, right now. Will it still be the best path in a year, five years, a decade into the future? Who knows? Your responsibility is to be open to making another decision when what you are doing now no longer seems to it; it is no longer entirely satisfying.
Robert Frost might have best summarized the retirement choice each of us must make: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
In its traditional sense, retirement may be bad for you. If so, don’t do it. Design your own satisfying retirement journey. Go where there is no path. Instead, leave a new trail, one cut by you.
Note: I ran across this tongue-in-cheek blog post on the road less traveled and thought you might enjoy it: 10 Reasons to take the road not taken