Are you ready to retire?
For many, such a question would require virtually no thought, with a hearty, you betcha, as the immediate response.
Yet much of that thinking is based on the notion that retirement is going to be carefree and relaxing and it comes from a generation where you physically worked hard for 40 years, retired to rest for 10 years, and died shortly thereafter.
It’s a different world today.
In a knowledge-based economy, aging is actually not such a bad thing.
Sure, the oldest generation in the workplace may not have all the savvy tech skills of youth, but they have the wisdom of life experiences to understand the complexities of work and interpersonal relationships and the work ethic to put in a decent day’s work, every day.
That’s not a criticism of young people, but simply a statement that an employer whose work does not require heavy lifting is just as likely, and perhaps even more likely, to value the experience and work habits of an older employee over the energy and naiveté of a younger employee, especially if that employer recognizes that technology is not the central component of success on the job.
Suddenly, with both the wisdom to be valued at work, and the recognition that 60 is almost middle-age given the longer life-spans we are living, employees may be saying they are ready for retirement at the standard 60- to 65-year range, but many are working five to ten years longer than they might have done a generation ago.
Again, some of this is brought about by the positive qualities of good health and being valued on the job, but some of it is also a factor of fear.
For some, the fear is financial.
Thinking of the possibility of living for 20 to 25 years with no income and rising costs makes everyone take a second glance at their real financial position.
Few are truly in a position to finance a carefree retirement of 20 or more years.
The second fear is simply what to do with 20-plus years of free time.
Again, a few have hobbies or travels they’ll be eager to pursue, but cutting yourself out of the work and social circles you’ve been in for many decades is more intimidating than you might think.
For many, their work has given them a real purpose to each day and the thought of waking up and not having anywhere to go can be quite worrisome.
And, of course, there’s always that nagging fear that some medical crisis is going to hit and wipe out your savings or leave you disabled with no additional coverages or benefits to support you.
We often think we should quit working while we’re healthy and can do all the things we want to do. But for some, especially those who’ve had some health issues before their retirement age, losing potential support after retirement is not an option they want to consider too early.
Are you ready to retire?
Ninety percent might say, yes, but a much lower percentage will actually mean it, or follow through on it in their early sixties.
Graham Hookey writes on education, parenting and eldercare (firstname.lastname@example.org).