Are you looking forward to retiring? If so, then I know you don’t like your job. Only people who hate their jobs dream of retirement. If you’re, say, forty and you can’t wait for the day you can retire then that’s most likely a really long wait—which is sad. Why wait 25 years or so before you can stop hating 40 hours (or more) out of your week? Even if it’s just 5 or 10 years away, that’s still a long way off.
When Work Is Your Passion
People who love their jobs don’t talk about retiring. In fact, they can’t wait to do it each day. Mark Twain once wrote, “Find a job you enjoy doing and you will never have to work a day in your life” and I believe that to be true. If you’re dreaming of the day you can retire, then it’s time to reassess what you’re doing and figure out what you would like to do instead. You can learn more about how to do this in my articles 5 Steps to a More Exciting and Lucrative Career and How Not to Hate Mondays.
There’s a movement going on called FIRE (financial independence, retire early). I’m all for people being financially independent (it’s one of the reasons why I write this blog) but the problem I have with the second half of the acronym—or any talk of retiring early—is that it glosses over the reason why people would want to retire early. People who love their jobs would view retiring early as a punishment, not a gift. They may want to cut back at some point so they can spend time more with friends and family or engage in hobbies but they would never want to walk away completely.
I love the story of Chris Gardner, a man who was once homeless and then became a millionaire stock-broker. (The movie The Pursuit of Happiness is based on his life.) According to Gardner, one of the major ingredients of success is to “find something you love to do so much, you can’t wait for the sun to rise to do it all over again.”
The Price of Early Retirement
Retiring early may cost you your life, too. A joint study that came out in 2017 from researchers at Cornell University and the University of Melbourne discovered that men who retired at age 62 had a 20% higher mortality rate than men who waited until 65. Likewise, an Oregon State University study found that working just one extra year, to age 66, gave those adults an 11% lower mortality rate compared to those who retired at an earlier age.
Retiring early also costs you when it comes to social security. For every year you delay retiring, you will increase your benefits by 8% up until age 70. And should you wait until age 70 to collect, you will receive 140% of what you would have received at age 65.
Work can also help you mentally, too. It can be a social outlet, especially if you work with like-minded people. It can make you feel needed and important and above all else, provide meaning to your life. That’s why you need to love what you do—so you’ll feel like you’re living your purpose.
How to Make Work a Choice and Not an Obligation
Of course, part of the allure of retirement means you no longer have to go to work for money and, naturally, that would be a big relief. Stressing about having enough money for now and in the future is never fun–and having to go to work because of financial obligations also contributes to most people’s general disdain for their work.
Working because you enjoy it instead of financial obligations is, of course, a much better situation. The best way to work in a field you love and make good money from it is to launch a business in a field you love. When you work for someone else, you hope someone hires you and eventually gives you more money via a promotion or annual raise. With your own business, you don’t have to wait around for someone to give you what you want; you create your own destiny.
Statistics confirm that being a business owner increases your chances of getting wealthy. Nearly half of all millionaires in the US got there by launching their own businesses. Compare that to only a quarter of millionaires getting there by working for someone else.
From FIRE to WARM
After understanding the facts, we can see how retirement can be romanticized. It can literally cut our funds and lifespan short, as well as make us feel unimportant and even lonely. Knowing this, I think a better plan is to cut back to part-time or transition into a similar job with fewer demands when we’re older instead of retiring completely—and follow that path until we are no longer physically or mentally able.
In the meantime, if you don’t love your job so much you wouldn’t dream of walking away, then I urge you to make a plan today on how you can switch careers. If we could all achieve that then the FIRE movement would cool off and become the WARM movement (workers against the retirement movement). I think that’s a much better plan:)