I am 58 years old, and it seems like almost every one of my friends are either retired already or thinking about retiring in the next couple of years. I only know of one person that is close to my age who is not contemplating retirement anytime soon. Some are enjoying it, and some are bored to tears. I know of three people who retired and within one year were already back looking for a new job.
I will admit, all this talk about retirement has me thinking about it as well. In America, for some reason, we have all been taught that working is some horrible grind and that the sooner we can find a way to live the good life and stop working, the better. Everyone seems to think that retirement is glorious.
On TV, we are bombarded with the message that getting rich is everything, and money equals leisure and the good life. Now don't get me wrong, I like money as much as the next guy. How many stories have you heard of wealthy people who have divorced multiple times, their kids disown them, and they are extremely unhappy? Those types of people tend to be so driven for money and power that they work extremely long hours and sacrifice their personal life. Those types are the opposite end of the spectrum and likely never retire until they are forced. Their drive for success is so powerful that they forget to enjoy success along the way.
I have a different perspective. I would classify myself as a driven, type-A personality. I have worked extremely hard throughout my career to get ahead. Although not rich, I've done reasonably well financially and have never lacked anything that I wanted.
However, as hard as I worked, I also stopped to smell the roses along the way. I made a point to take a timeout from work to coach my kids' sports teams, show up to important events, go to church, get active in volunteer organizations, build things around the house, have date nights with my wife, and take regular vacations. I tried to take at least a long weekend once every quarter. And when the kids were home, we always took at least one major family trip every year, sometimes two. I found that I was always either planning a trip, recovering from a trip, or looking forward to the next trip. We took tons of pictures and enjoyed every minute of every trip. The activities outside of work gave me a purpose for the work. Nothing ever got old. It still doesn’t, even though my kids are grown. We just have different types of activities to look forward to.
Although retirement is something I will consider at some future date, I am not counting the days. The thought of having nothing to do does not sound good to me.
Perhaps I feel this way because I feel like I've lived a pretty balanced life, and work is just something that I do along with all the other activities. I don't look at it as a chore. I enjoy what I do. As I've gotten older and built my company to 40 employees, my role has changed from a front-line salesman and Jack-of-all-trades to more of a wise-old man and advisor. I enjoy sharing my expertise with younger inexperienced people.