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Is RETIREMENT an Obsolete Concept?

Updated: Jun 10, 2023

The 'retirement' word itself - it doesn't mean anything concrete

If you think about it you will discover that you have some platitudes and meaningless sayings about the future. Words like 'Bucket List', Carefree, or Destinations - like Hawaii, or trips to someplace like Europe. "When I retire I'll go on a cruise down the Danube". Nothing wrong with dreams, but these descriptions mean very different things to different people. You operate in the proverbial Tower of Babel. In this sense, words are obstacles.

Yet, your "Bucket List" is, hopefully, not the same as anyone else's. It could be similar in nature, but not exactly the same. Some people like to travel to Japan and some won't fly over water. Maybe by boat?

With some folks, just getting rid of the current job they don't like is 90 percent of it. To them, 'relief' is the dominant expectation. The day we finally turn in the key to the office - Nirvana.

You get the point. There is just no common place to start and we all know that aging, money management, relationships, health, national conflicts abroad (and domestically in the USA) will keep changing. Expectations and relationships will always change as time goes by so why do we plan on anything - let alone something as vague as what our retirement might be?

And no wonder so few people are well prepared for what is known as "the retirement years" (another meaningless term). Here is an analogy. You go into a theater and watch a long movie. When you went in it was sunny and warm. The movie is over - you go outside. What's this? It's now windy and a cold rain is beating against the theater doors. Others are looking out at the bad weather. Should we run for the car and get wet? This was not what we expected when we went in, and we are not prepared for it. Very few brought an umbrella. It's a sudden, unexpected change, and often so is the period we label as "the retirement years".

What's the moral of the little story? Carry an umbrella everywhere? How about: Expect changes in my life and prepare to overcome them!

An Easy Start to Fixing Most of Life's Surprises - Building Resilience

Remember you will never "retire". You will adjust, and react, and seek support, and form habits - based on your expectations. You may have several careers after age 50.

No matter your age, things change. Fifth grade is a way off for the 4th grader, yet we help them in getting ready for it now. We expect that they must DO stuff to be ready for the next stage. As an adult this pattern is repeated, albeit a little more subtle.

If you are working now, wherever that might be, it is an hopeful expectation if there is an promotion ahead. What are the next steps? If you are self employed more sales next year should be anticipated. A farmer takes the weather into account while improving the soil for next year where the crops are planted. Some soil just rests for a year or two. Fertilize before you harvest.

Change is the constant, so getting better at reacting to change becomes a key tool for later in life.

Doing the things that work instead of thinking it's "work".

What works for you? You can consult ChatGPT to get some ideas. Good source to start, but limited, because your response is what counts. You still have to DO something about building adaptability to change. Here is a process I recommend after many years of helping with what is called "Life Coaching". Remember - start small!

  • Time Control - You're doing it now - just use it better. You know where you waste it. Do it a bit better this week, even if its only sticky notes and lists. Keep the notes and lists and use them to plan next weeks schedule in advance on Sunday night. Then throw them out and do it all a bit better next time. Attack Monday before Monday attacks you.

  • Health - Whatever the state of it now, pick a part that you can choose to "improve" proactively. Put that into next weeks schedule. Start small. For example, choose a three block walk instead of the two block walk you were doing. Record it in the schedule as you do it. Record anything where you feel proud of what you did.

  • Relationships - Where could you do something nice and unexpected? Who could you call right now? Do it now! Or, put two or three of these calls into the schedule each week. Rank them as to the most fun or rewarding as you plan next week. Put more into the following week as you gain confidence in building emotional satisfaction.

  • Resources - rethink what they are and where could you do a bit better? There's always money to manage. Hire a CFP or call your CPA. Keep an expense log. Every other resource you have is usually covered under Time, Health, or Relationships. To sense any need ask this: "Where do I feel scarcity?" Where are you hanging on to something you don't need? What is the one resource that I would FEEL best about improving? (Your ability to prioritize and sense feelings is a powerful resource).

Here's the Happy Thought to end today - if you just DO this sequence regularly, using your time schedule wisely each week to keep life balanced, you can't miss. Everything will get better, gradually. Your resilience will grow. If you don't do it, everything will not get better. It will gradually fray and unravel because you aren't changing.

Pick a tiny change in time control and start. NOW.

Happy Days Ahead

Joe Grant, MBA

Certified Retirement Coach

Contact me for a Free 45 minute Consultation at

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