Even without seeing the official stats, you’ve probably noticed an increasing number of so-called senior citizens who are no longer behaving like proper old people. In an homage to the new senior lifestyle, I’d like to focus on the “not-retirement” model I mentioned in my last post:
Working (or playing) straight through
Some people avoid retirement entirely. If you find meaning in your work – maybe you don’t even consider it “work” – you may prefer to keep at it as long as you’re able. There’s even some evidence that those who continue working into their 70s or 80s may live longer than those who kick up their feet at age 65. Maybe that’s due to related evidence that “unemployment is destructive to people’s wellbeing.”
As this classic 2010 video by the late Hans Rosling illustrates, more people have been enjoying longer, healthier lives around the globe. No wonder those who love their careers, and/or feel they’ve not yet reached their financial goals, may be reluctant to call it quits anytime soon.
In a recent HBO documentary, “If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast,” director Carl Reiner, actress Betty White, 100-year-old marathon runner Ida Keeling, and a host of others show us how they have “inspired rather than retired” after age 90. If you’re wondering what to make of your own days here on earth, you’ll find scads of inspiration, and lots of laughs, in this documentary.
One key may be to measure your personal and financial progress in the context of your own goals, interests and skill sets. Instead of succumbing to actuarial stereotypes or trying to keep up with the Joneses, consider being more like Keeling. Without giving away too much of her tale, the documentary reveals she started running at age 67 to recover from an event that shattered her notion of self. “Now, I’m chasing myself,” she observes. “There’s nobody to compete with.”
Unfortunately, no amount of upbeat thinking will change the fact that not everyone gets to enjoy a long life. Take the brilliant Dr. Rosling, for example. Despite his seemingly unlimited passion and an amazing career, he passed away from pancreatic cancer earlier this year, at the untimely age of 68.
Still, Rosling fully fits the model of someone who never thought to “retire.” Even today, his work and legacy live on, embodied in Gapminder, a non-profit organization dedicated to changing global quality of life. Rosling co-founded the group with his son and daughter-in-law, Ola and Anna Rosling, who continue his legacy work today.
As a financial planner, my own career is dedicated to helping others prepare their financials. While having more money is usually more pleasant than having less, the real aim is to have enough of it. What’s “enough”? It’s measured by whether you get to decide when you’d like to retire – if ever – instead of having the dollars driving that decision for you.
In my next post, I’ll add the tale of one of my own favorite “not-retirement” role models to the list of those featured in HBO’s documentary (although the one I’ve got in mind is a relative youth, only in his 70s). So don’t retire from reading my blog just yet!
SAGE Serendipity: This picture accompanying a tweet from Boston’s Logan International Airport TSA made me stop in my clicking tracks. A gigantic lobster in a carry on?! It accompanied an article in Quartz.com How to pack your lobster: A foodie’s guide to airplane travel. Because one must always be prepared when travelling….