Talking with my parents about their retirement plans has been very enlightening. I found out that my dad fully intends on working until he is at least 70 years old. I guess it’s not a total surprise, he is a bit of a workaholic, likes his job, and I don’t think he would handle retirement very well. He already gets 8 weeks of vacation a year, which is plenty for him. My mom could probably retire today, but she’d be bored out of her mind as well without grandkids or something to keep her busy. They both travel around the globe for almost a month a year so they are content.
This has gotten me to think – instead of all this focus on saving money, maxing out your 401k, workworkwork for 20 years, all so you can “screw it!” at age 50, I should really focus instead of finding a career path that I really enjoy and wouldn’t mind doing even when I’m 70.
For example, talking with my friends, two of their retired parents both went back to work recently because they simply got antsy sitting around all day. One actually bags groceries in the supermarket now and the other works for the airlines checking bags. Wouldn’t you rather be doing something you’re good at? I suppose the stress level is lower.
I still think my ultimate goal is to be financially free when I’m 55. That way I can work if I want, and pursue my passion for travel when I want. My former job was in a very secure company, the average length of employment for the workers there was probably 20 years. I’m sure I could have worked there until I died if I wanted to. But it didn’t challenge me in a way I wanted. It’s a bit scary now trying to get into a new area, but it’s also really fun. Now I need to plan how to work less hard for a longer period of time, instead of really hard for a short period of time. And still be financially secure.
I think the key to knowing if you are happy in your job is if you wake up in the morning and are excited to get out of bed. Anyways, this what I think about on Saturday mornings.
By Jonathan Ping | Retirement | 12/3/05, 8:04am