Baby Boomers Setting New Trend: Never to Retire
Retirement generally means that people leaving their employment or occupation, withdrawing from an active working life. Retirees usually collect some forms of pension benefits. When the life expectancy is around 70, slowing down to enjoy leisure living for a few years after retiring at the age of 65 makes sense, at least for the past few decades.
The Old Days
Back in the early 1900s, most workers continued to work until their health failed them. Life expectancy was around 50. Established pension arrangements were unheard of.
Work-until-death may sound brutal.
What if you are doing something you absolutely enjoy? You do it not because you have to. You do it because you love it.
Maybe that explains the new emerging trend. More people are becoming “nevertirees”. The Macmillan online dictionary defines the buzzword “nevertiree” as someone who continues to work beyond the age when people usually retire. Even wealthy people choose to continue working in some capacity after they stepped away for full-time positions because they are passionate about what they do.
In the new millennium, the concept of “retirement” is in need of an overhaul. Perhaps redefining retirement to mean passionate living that includes some form of work. It’s definitely not about “disengagement” or “withdrawal” from active working life.
There are four key benefits of not retiring in the traditional sense. Each benefit conjures a compelling reason not to retire at all.
1) Not retiring reduces financial stress
Many people cannot afford to retire at 65. For those that do not have a huge lump-sum of saving or a sizable pension plan, the uncertainty to survive comfortably through the long haul can be a major stress factor.
With the increase in life expectancy, more people live beyond 70, 80 or even 90 with relative good health. Doing paid work allows the continual flow of income, thus eliminating the threat of financial constraints for an unknown number of years.
2) Not retiring promotes body-mind-spirit wellness
Doing work that we enjoy enhances our overall well-being. Our body is designed for natural movement. Our brain is wired for making new connections. Our spirit is programmed to seek meaning and build relationships. Working provides the opportunity for regular activities that involve physical movement, mental stimulation, social connection and a sense of purpose. The Bluezones studies support that staying active is one of the determinants of healthy longevity.
3) Not retiring satisfies our human need for growth and learning
Life is full of opportunities. Every day offers new challenges for us to explore and experience. We are designed for lifelong learning so that we can continue to acquire new skills and adapt to our environment. Whether we live in the stone ages or the cyber era, we strive to master survival and enhance our quality of life.
4) Not retiring satisfies our human need for significance
Each one of us was born for a special purpose. Therefore, we have a mission to fulfill on earth, whether to plant beautiful gardens, to teach children basic life skills, to create uplifting music, to build safe bridges, to write fantasy novels, to heal the sick, etc. Our lives have intrinsic meaning and values. We feel significant about ourselves when we exercise our gifts and contribute to society through our works. We are designed for lifelong service. Psychologist Abraham Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of needs states the basic human needs that include: physiological need for survival, safety need for security and protection, social need for love and belonging, self-worth need for dignity and respect, and fulfillment need for achieving our highest potentials.
My friend’s father, Bob is 92 years old. He retired at age 60 after working for the same company for 30 years. He spends more time in retirement years than in his working career. During the first couple of years of his retirement, he enjoyed travelling and visiting old friends abroad. However, he has been bored for a long, long time. He told me recently that if he knew to have such a long life, he would start a business in his early sixties and do something that is meaningful.
Bob’s sentiments of continuing some form of work were echoed by the responses in the recent 2013 U.S. study by Merrill Lynch. Seven out of 10 pre-retirees say they would ideally like to include some work in their retirement years. Most prefer flexible work arrangements, such as part-time work (39%) or having the option of blending periods of work and leisure (24%).
For many, the benefits of not retiring outweigh the notion of spending decades in leisure living. Perhaps a different approach that blends in work, growth and leisure is the answer to those who are looking to live life to the fullest.
Do you see yourself working after the traditional retirement age?
Will you join the new trend of being a “nevertiree”?
What is the motivation behind your choice?