Retirement? Maybe Not Ever

imagesWe were all waiting for our dinners to arrive, when the young couple sharing the restaurant table asked us about the blue wristbands. We’d been at the Desert Botanical Garden’s Las Noches de las Luminarias, which is a beautiful holiday experience. They were both civil engineers planning on driving across the desert tonight to be in Los Angeles tomorrow.

“Are you guys still working?” they asked anxiously. When I confirmed that we were, and that we both owned businesses and weren’t planning on retiring, we got “the look.” After all, a lot of people move to Phoenix to retire. So why aren’t we retired? Retirement is the reward you get after hating your job for 30 years. How horribly sad that thought is.

Many of my friends are taking early retirement. Tired of the work world and

Mural of birds on a wall in downtown Phoenix.

Mural of birds on a wall in downtown Phoenix.

filled with a desire to travel, garden, or enjoy their houses, they are bailing out of the rat race, because, they tell me, the rats are winning.

For the first month, retirement is bliss. Often, though, the dreams about retirement begin to thin out. It’s hard to live without a regular income. Most of my friends aren’t wealthy, and the lack of a regular paycheck can’t easily be replaced by penny pinching.

For the retirees who are wealthy, there is often a vacuum created by a lack of identity. We are our jobs after a while. It’s how we think of ourselves. It’s what we do most of our waking hours. And often, it’s what we ignore our families for.

When your hobby, which was fit into stolen moments, suddenly has to bear the burden of making you feel worthwhile, it can’t hold up its side of the bargain to amuse, entertain, and keep you busy.

At that point, retirement doesn’t look like the promise you’ve pursued all your working life.

I love what I do, and because I do several things–develop training courses, teach those courses, coach creative souls (and those who think they aren’t), and write—I don’t get bored. Work is fascinating because I’m endlessly curious and problem solving is a major part of my work.

Retire? Not me. Working, learning, exploring all fascinate me. I don’t have to work crossword puzzles as long as I’m figuring out how to solve a training problem for one client, researching an article I’m writing, and figuring out what to ask a client who wants to transition into retirement. And I like the boss.

–Quinn McDonald helps people figure out how to change their lives, in retirement, or in the middle of their careers. She did, and will live longer for it.


20 thoughts on “Retirement? Maybe Not Ever

  1. I thought I was the only one who wasn’t happy about being retired. I was forced to leave my job in June–definitely not my choice and I was not ready to be retired. I’m trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. I want to contribute and feel I have things to offer.

  2. Quinn – not everyone has an option. My organization has a mandatory retirement age. So whether I was “ready” or not, at age 65 I had to retire. And – to tell the truth – two yeas later, it has been a great experience. I have expanded my awareness into whole new ages of learning and creativity. I suspect every stage in life is what we make of it and attitude is everything.

    • I’m well aware that not everyone has an option–but as you proved, you can make a life for yourself from which you don’t have to retire. Which is the point. People get laid off, fired, dumped–often not in their control. What they really do with their life? The meaning they make? Yep, that’s what the point is.

  3. In 2011 i was laid off from my job as a graphic designer. It was OK. I was ready. I had been designing textbooks for so long it was getting old. I got back into my acrylic paints and never looked back. Until now that is. I am back to designing again and it feels great. It won’t be textbooks though I can tell you that. I love always learning new things and so right now I am learning the newest versions of the software I once knew so well!
    At the end of this month I have to go sign up for…..ugh…..medicare. Now that feels old!

  4. Quinn, I really have another retirement experience. While not wealthy (and my income was reduced by almost half when I retired) my level of happiness has increased at least ten fold. I was not one of those people who hated my corporate job for years, but planned and saved for retirement. Now my days are so full that I do not know how I ever worked 8 hours a day. I recently campaigned (fought long and hard, but lost anyway…) for a political candidate and that was something I would not have been able to do working full time. And while it is true that I am not doing as much art as I always fantasized that I would I am ONLY doing things that I am passionate about or that I love to do (campaigning, volunteering, teaching a few classes, etc). All in all, my word for the year, SETTLE, has pretty much come true (after a major derailment in June) and I love being retired. To each his own my friend…

  5. Yes! I’m sure I’ve told you before that my uncle is still working at the age of 90. Still travels the world giving lectures and writing research books. He has told me that I don’t need to retire! He claims that it’s ‘in the genes’, lol.

  6. I like this post Quinn. But I am looking forward to retiring from my job in an accounting department. I don’t plan on retiring from working though nor my husband. We both intend to start new jobs in something we really enjoy and go for many years. Mine involves creativity and I am slowly taking steps now to be ready when the time comes which is only a few years from now.

    • Kids are influenced so much today–by peers, games, TV, movies–and in grade school, the most important thing is obedience and fitting in–and that means knowing the American Business Model rules.

  7. Although I’m not very ‘visible’ on the internet lately, I’m still here and so glad you are too – triggering my (our) minds with wise thoughts. Have a great weekend dear one!

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