No time for retirement

Have you ever had one of those days, weeks or perhaps lives, where you are continually running from one thing to another?  No time to think, no time to eat, no time to breath!  Busy, busy, busy.  Well, that’s okay you say, because some day you will retire and everything will change.  Sounds good, but if you are like most people, it is a pipedream.  Most of the people I know who have retired will tell you that they are now busier than when they were working.  This does not make sense.  How can you possibly be busier when you are not working than when you are working?  This is a good question to ponder.  Let me share with you a typical schedule from one of the “retirement” centers near where we live in Arizona:  The Galloping Seniors Retirement Park:

8 AM                  Yoga on chairs
9 AM                  Dance lessons:  Waltz, Modern Dance (Tango optional)
10 AM                Card Games:  Bridge, Poker  (5 dollar limit on pot)
11 AM                Bingo
12 PM                Potluck Lunch
I PM                   Golf Tee off or balance training
3 PM                  Pickleball  (book club optional)
4:30 PM             Patio Drinks (Alcohol optional)
5:00 PM             Dinner for seniors (low calorie)
7:00 PM             Classic Movie Time or old reruns of Lawrence Welk show
9:00 PM             Bedtime
If you have any left over time, you might have grand-parenting responsibilities, church responsibilities, club memberships, family commitments, gardening, blogging, social clubs, continuing education and the occasional part-time job.  Then you have to factor in doctor appointments for increasing medical problems.  I have little doubt that the reason many old people talk about health incessantly is that medical problems and time spent dealing with them become a dominant use of time.   Medical problems are not optional like Pickleball. 
There is a simple solution to the problem of time.  Don’t retire!  Continue doing what you have done for the rest of your remaining life. Why screw things up with a new schedule when you have spent many years adjusting to the old schedule.  If you were not happy with your pre-retirement life what makes you think you will be any happier with a new post-retirement plan?    I know what you are thinking:  “How can he say that.  I have been working for thirty years with a dream of retirement and living each day fishing and golfing and he wants me to continue to work.  Is he nuts?”   One good reasons is that many studies show that people do not live long after they retire but then who really believes all of these so called scientific studies anyway. 
However, there are several other practical reasons not to retire. One is that you will not have to worry about the government taking your Medicare and social security benefits away.  Think of all the stress this will take off of your life knowing that you are not dependent on the government to pay for your increasing taxes and health care.  Of course, this will probably be offset somewhat by your rising health care costs which shortly before you die will exceed the national deficit.  I am sure you are all familiar with the costs of keeping an elderly person alive.  It goes up exponentially with each week or month aspired to.  Karen says that we should each live to be about 90 years old.  I figure that during my last year on this earth, I will probably contribute at least a million dollars to support the medical establishment.  By continuing to work, I can defer the costs somewhat and feel more useful even as my bones ache and my mobility diminishes.  In addition, when you are working, you get the weekends off.  Have you ever heard of a retiree with the weekends off?  This reminds me of another reason for the lack of time when we retire.
Have you ever noticed that retirees and the elderly move more slowly?  They also drive more slowly.  This means more time is spent simply getting from one place to another.  When we were young, we could go from A to B in zero time.   As teenagers we zipped from one place to another in the blink of any eye.  Now that we are older, we wait for the red light.  We look both ways before crossing the street.  We hold onto the bannister when walking up and down stairs.  We ponder the varieties and freshness of fruit and vegetables at the grocery store. We also take much longer in the buffet lines as we decide which non-healthy foods we dare take today. 
Karen keeps reminding me that I am going to grow old someday, but I am putting it off by not retiring.  When anyone asks if I am going to retire, I tell them my plan is to retire when I am 93.  With any luck, my job will still be in vogue and I can continue motivating students who need to develop career skills so that they can dream of retirement someday.  I hope to counter this dream of retirement by extolling the virtues of working until we die.  Why should anyone feel that they are entitled to quit being productive?  Why should the elderly feel that the young should support their flamboyant and hectic retirement lifestyles?  
Are you dreaming of retirement?  What will you do with your time?  What could help you to enjoy your retirement time more?  What can you do to help insure that your retirement is really a chance to enjoy life more and not fill your time with escapist activities?  The real danger of retirement in my opinion is that we think we can retire from life. 
Retire from work, but not from life.
— M. K. Soni

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Bruce Galbreath
    May 09, 2012 @ 18:40:19

    This one really strikes home for me, John. I fully agree with you that not retiring is a good idea, and I second your point about not having to worry about depending on others to provide for your life style. Yet here I am, retired for almost 3 years now, and I'm still under 65. I can live very comfortably without working for pay on my pension and Social Security. But is it good for me and/or good for the larger community that I live in comfortable leisure? I don't worry about those supports being taken away. I expect them to be, which is why I took an early retirement buy out offer and signed up for Social Security at 62, taking a reduced benefit. I don't see myself as permanently retired because, when those supports are taken away or inflated away, I'll have to go back to work to support myself.
    Also, I don't feel any more or less engaged with life than I did when I was going to my job. Instead of going to an office, I have spent the last few years doing home maintenance and renovations on my house, my mother's house, my girlfriend's house, my son's house. In a sense I am doing more work than before I retired, but not for income. It's all work that just seems to present itself as things that need to be done that I can do. I'm good enough at it, and I enjoy dealing with the puzzles that present themselves, but I don't see it as my natural calling. I'm not sure what I do see as my natural calling. Necessity is the mother of invention, and maybe I'll finally figure it out when the props that support my life style are gone. It's repulsive, even to me, but I follow the path of least resistance and get paid for not working.



  2. Tony Trinh
    May 11, 2012 @ 06:22:54

    I don't think of retirement at all. Back when I was in the states, I would put $0 in my 401k and my friends thought I was crazy. I told them that I'm not working towards retirement. Maybe I'll become wiser when I get older and start saving, but right now I want to bet everything on myself. I'm all in on myself, because that's the best bet I got. I know this is most likely a reflection of my age (26), but to me, I want all my resources available to me right now because I'm currently on a journey to find that one true love in my life where I don't ever retire from work or life, because I'll love it so much, I'll do it until I die. I want my work and life to be one. I don't think about retirement, because I'm living for the day. Irresponsible, maybe. But am I loving it? Absolutely. At the end of the day, I just don't want to work towards something is not guaranteed 30-40 years down the road. I'd rather enjoy my time and bet on myself that when I'm older, I'll have found that one thing that I love and am passionate about, because that in itself will bring me money and more importantly, happiness.



  3. John Persico
    May 15, 2012 @ 14:15:23

    I like your attitude Tony, I wish I had thought more like you when I was younger. I have always been preoccupied with living ahead and planning for the future, perhaps taking one day at a time is the only way to truly be alive.



  4. John Persico
    May 15, 2012 @ 14:23:46

    Our days are like the backpack that gets full no matter how big. Buy a bigger one and you simply put more stuff in. I like the fact that your experience with retirement runs somewhat counter to what I was saying Bruce. You are making it and living within your means and I hope it can continue. My question to you is “Do you think you could get back into the job market if you needed to?” My experience with other friends who have retired and then changed their minds was that the only work they could find was a “Greeter” at Walmarts. Even in IT fields, they world is evolving so rapidly that two or three years out of the mainstream and you are really out of sync in terms of skills and perceived value to the labor market. Karen found that she is still employable as a nurse only because she has continued part-time work which has allowed her to keep up with regs and procedures otherwise she would not be employable.



  5. Neil Fiorenza
    Jul 13, 2012 @ 20:36:42

    Well, it's great that you didn't really “retire” in the first place. That will definitely keep you lively, busy, and happy in the long run. Meeting people and sharing your time with them can make “retired” life fulfilling and enjoyable, and it’s definitely good for you to keep busy like that! Oh, make sure to mark every event on the calendar! Hehe! Cheers!



  6. mortgage solutions
    Jul 30, 2012 @ 02:17:06

    Now that I'm retired I don't know how I found time to work – and am enjoying retirement as much as I did my working life – life is great ( thank you God).

    It's good to get old – as it means we're still here to complain – if we have anything to complain of!

    I suppose my retirement is made easy as on top of the money I planned (barely enough) I now get paid Every Day by an Internet program introduced to me over 18 months back – I have been paid every day since — If it can be of use to anyone else go to; – be warned -it's “different – but it is genuine!

    When you see someone without a smile – give them one of yours

    Be Happy.



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