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  • Writer's pictureDan Haylett

Why 'retirement' is a flawed concept!

retirement is a human problem not a maths one

Here are my top 3 takeaways following a wonderful conversation with Carl Richards on episode 10 of The Humans vs Retirement Podcast

1. Retirement is a flawed concept.

The concept of retirement itself is flawed and retirement is a silly idea for humans!

Let’s caveat that statement with some grounding into reality… While it may be more desirable and necessary for those who engage in hard manual labour, for most people doing knowledge work, retirement is not a natural or desirable state. The idea that one will work full gas until a certain age and then golf or pursue leisure activities is a romanticised notion that does not align with reality.

Many individuals wake up at the age of 50, 55, or 60 and realize that this is not what they want or need. They may have spent their lives working hard to provide for their families and secure their futures, but in the process, they may have neglected their relationships, hobbies, and passions.

Retirement, as it is currently conceived, does not allow for a seamless transition from work to leisure. It can be a jarring and disorienting experience that leaves many people feeling lost and unfulfilled.

As I’ve stated many times before, retirement is a manmade invention that does not align with our natural tendencies as human beings. We are wired to work and contribute to society, and retirement can rob us of our sense of purpose and identity.

Many people who retire find themselves struggling with depression, anxiety, and a lack of direction. They may feel like they have lost their sense of purpose and struggle to find meaning in their lives.

We must also be open to the idea that retirement may not be the best option for us and be willing to explore alternative paths that allow us to live happy, healthy, and wealthy lives.

Maybe we need to rewire our brains to think about retirement differently, I find reframing it into this sentence helps people I work with…

“Think about making work optional, then find other meaningful ways to contribute and ensure any work you do is purposeful and gives you joy”.

2. Retirement is more of a human problem than a maths one.

Retirement is often to focused on mathematical equations, with numbers and calculations being the most important aspect of any conversations or thoughts.

However, retirement is much more than just numbers and spreadsheets! It’s about dreams, aspirations, joy, happiness, purpose, passions, values, uncertainty, anxieties, fears, and grief.

Retirement (and money) are complex and emotional subjects that require a deep understanding of human behaviour and psychology.

Retirement and the emotions wrapped around money is a human problem! This statement may seem obvious, but it is often overlooked as our obsession and focus on numbers and spreadsheets means we treat retirement planning as a math problem. However, the reality is that money is deeply intertwined with our emotions, fears, anxieties, dreams, and aspirations. It is a human problem that requires human solutions.

I believe having conversations about money that go beyond the surface level are non-negotiable and vital when planning retirement. These conversations should explore the meaning behind our financial decisions and how they align with our values and goals. They should also address the emotional barriers that may prevent us from making financial decisions that align with our values in retirement, such as judgment, shame, fear, and greed.

My observation is that many people struggle with letting go of their past selves, I know I do even at age 40! They continue to try to be the same person they were in their youth, even as they enter retirement. Instead, we should embrace the wisdom and experience that comes with age and find new ways to use it.

By doing less of the things we don't like and more of the things we do, we can ensure a bright and prosperous future for ourselves and those we love.

Retirement doesn't have to mean the end of our lives; it can be the beginning of a new and exciting chapter.

3. Retirement is a new beginning.

The concept of retirement has been ingrained in society for decades, with the idea that we work hard for a certain number of years, save up enough money, and then retire to a life of leisure and relaxation. However, this traditional view of retirement is being challenged by a new generation of individuals who are embracing their go-go years instead of just retiring.

Here’s something to think about…

"What would you do if you were given 20 years of experience, wisdom, and connections at the age of 30? What could you build for the next 20 years of your life and what contributions could you make with your newfound knowledge and skills".

As we age, we have even more experience, wisdom, and connections, which can be utilised to create something bigger and better than ever before.

Retirement is often seen as the end of one's working life, a time to slow down and relax after years of hard work. However, retirement can also be viewed as a new beginning, a time to explore new passions, hobbies, and interests. Your ‘go-go years (typically between the ages of 60 and 75), provide an amazing opportunity to utilise everything we have learned and as above create something bigger and better than ever before.

I believe that most people do not fully appreciate the opportunity that retirement presents. We often think of retirement as a time to shut things down and relax, rather than a time to explore new passions and interests. Chip Conley's work with the Modern Elder Academy is amazing and encourages companies to look to their elders for wisdom and perspective. Conley himself realised that he had a lot to offer despite not being able to type as fast or travel as much as he used to!

Retirement can be a new beginning, a time to explore new passions and interests. By doing less of the things we don't like and more of the things we do, we can live more fulfilling lives in the present and ensure a bright and prosperous future for ourselves and those we love. Retirement doesn't have to mean the end of our lives; it can be the beginning of a new and exciting chapter.

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