“Starting a new job at 55? Are you crazy?“, an older man says to the other man in the adjacent shower stall.
I’m at the indoor swimming pool, taking a shower, too, and eavesdropping on the conversation.
“Why? The new job sounds exciting. I’m really looking forward to it!“, man number two says as he starts the cold tap and then puffs and pants loudly under the chilly water.
“You weirdo! Do you want to risk your early retirement?“
I finish up and leave the shower area. I’m happy for the confident guy and his new job, but his acquaintance’s objections make me think: Why is it that retirement is such a desirable objective? Early retirement, that is! I fail to relate to the underlying concept of life.
However, one thing’s for certain: Many people simply endure their job the remaining ten to fifteen years, waiting to reach the legal retirement age. But I don’t understand that at all. I couldn’t care less about my “retirement“ – for a perfectly good reason: I’m planning to work for as long as I can. My job is so much fun!
Sure: At the age of 55, a lot of people no longer struggle with day-to-day survival. House, car, caravan – they have all that. Annual holidays in the southern regions, ocean cruises, Caribbean all-inclusive. The children are grown, the debt virtually paid off, the job is fine. All goals have been achieved. The only remaining goal now becomes the center of their lives: reaching retirement age. And then, well … then what?
I think to myself: The jobs these people have must be awful! Or maybe just boring and without anymore challenges. Otherwise I can find no explanation for why retirement is supposedly such a worthwile future. Perhaps they’ve never had the career they really wanted, or they never figured out what kind of job they would enjoy.
Those who are not passionate about their work, however, are almost dead. In any case, waiting for retirement is not living.
I wish for the sceptical swimmer that he’ll at least – if he was never fully engaged in his work – find an avid activity once he’s retired. Because studies show: People who stop being productive die sooner compared to those who work up until they die or have at least something that keeps them busy. It’s similiar with spouses who die within a very short time of each other. They no longer see a purpose in life other than being with their partner. If the activities die along with the partner, they die as well.
It is therefore essential that you always have a task that helps you stay active. And it is actually quite easy to find such a task. My daughter does a Kita project at a retirement home. The elderly take care of the children as much as they’re able to: they have conversations, draw pictures together, tell stories, read to them, sing together and even view the beekeeping of one of the residents. Thus, the children get to meet other persons for some welcome interaction, and the elderly have a meaningful task. It is a wonderful experience for both generations.
Productivity is only limited in our mind. That is demonstrated impressively by Germany’s oldest businesswoman. At 100 years old, Gerdi Benthack manages a renowned building supplies store – respect! Especially when many people tend to take a step back in their third phase of life, this lady is kicking it into high gear.
You don’t have to do the same, but every period of life has, ultimately, its own theme, and it is up to each person to find a passionate activity for every age.
An acquaintance of mine, a kindergarten teacher, managed to put aside enough money from her small salary to relocate to Sevilla – fulfilling a dream she had for a long time. You should see her total committment and enthusiasm. I’m sure she’ll be just as enthusiastic after the move.
So you really shouldn’t wait for retirement. Never. Instead, come up with ideas of what you’re going to do next, be passionate about it and give yourself a new lease of life!