Retire in 30 years or semi-retire today?

Retirement – the idea that one should withdraw from work at a specific age – is dead!

It’s an obsolete concept; it is flawed at best.

Retire in 30 years or semi-retire today?

Retirement – the idea that one should withdraw from work at a specific age – is dead!

It’s an obsolete concept; it is flawed at best.

When physical work dominated the labour force, the concept of retirement emerged. Workers were forced to retire when they couldn’t perform the physical work any longer. And although they remained an important part of the community, they were no longer able to work full-time.

As a child, I spent my summers visiting my grandmother. In her younger years, she would still help out in the family, cooking every day and putting her abilities at the service of the community. In some cultures, retirement takes an even more extreme form: the elderly are abandoned for death when they are no longer able to serve their families and become an economic burden.

In today’s world, is retiring well even possible for most of us?

Shouldn’t we all aspire to something else? I have pondered over this and I have come to the conclusion that I don’t want to retire. I enjoy what I do too much to stop doing it!

In fact, here is a question for you: why would you stop doing something you enjoy?

I’ve decided to aim for something different.

Allow me to elaborate:

If retirement is obsolete, why is it still such a popular concept?
Why has no one challenged it over the last few years?
I’ve met a few people that said: “No, I am not ready to retire yet”. I saw a surgeon retire at 95 years of age – this is way past the ‘consensus’ or the ‘acceptable’ retirement age.

I don’t want to retire.

More and more people are working into their 70s and 80s. Some workers do this out of necessity, but others simply enjoy what they do too much to stop.

Yet, retirement is still something that many people aspire for. For many, it is just a target, an ‘end date’ for their misery. It is something that helps to make the unbearable present a little more bearable.

How many people do you know that love what they do? And how many of these people talk about retiring?

What are we doing so wrong in the workplace to make employees say, “You know what, I can’t wait to retire.” In other words: “I need a deadline. I need a deadline for this misery.”

This is an unfortunate reality: in many countries, where the retirement age is on average 67 years, people will spend 35 to 45 years working. If we are spending this much time working, shouldn’t we aspire for work that is fulfilling? Instead of something that we see simply as an obligation.

It should be much more than that. You may notice that when people finally really meet this ‘deadline’, they aren’t always as happy as they thought they would be. Are people more excited about the idea of retiring than they are about their actual retirement?

Is the concept of retirement actually more enjoyable than the reality?

I’ve also realized that I don’t want to work 10, 12, 14 hours every day anymore!

So, I’ve come to the conclusion for myself: I don’t want to retire, I want to semi-retire, possibly this week.

And as I write this, I’m in Spain, traveling and bringing my work with me. I’m now sitting at a restaurant, outside, in one of many plazas in Madrid, taking a long lunch break.

I’ve made the decision to ‘retire’ a bit every day.

I enjoy staying alert, keeping fit and sharp.

Granted there will be 14-hour workdays and that’s just part of the game. There may be some weeks where I have to work 60-80 hours but that’s the exception, not the rule.

Instead, what I aspire for today is to work 4-5 hours a day, every day.

I don’t even mind having to work a few hours on a Saturday or Sunday. In fact, I’m a creative person and it does happen that I get the brightest ideas outside the “usual working time”. And why wouldn’t I jot these ideas down and work on them on a Saturday?

It comes down to working when you feel the most inspired and productive.

I would happily create a video for my clients on a Saturday or Sunday.

Why wouldn’t I take 15 minutes out of my lunch break to do that? And then, why not enjoy the rest of the hour or even Monday afternoon off?

Whilst I am writing this I am picturing some of the great inventors, a great influencer, someone like Leonardo Da Vinci, having an idea and thinking to himself: “Nope, it’s a Sunday, I should not be thinking of work today.” Think about it…

Truth is, life is much more different today than it was 50 years ago. Even five years ago, actually, scrap that, make it two years ago.

Don’t we need to aspire for new models of working?

In reality, I have been aiming to work five hours a day since January. I have had days off and I don’t normally work on Fridays, especially to compensate for some of the crazy early/late hours I do while working remotely with clients on the other end of the globe.

For tomorrow’s (Friday) early retirement dose, I have scheduled doing some physical activity in the morning and then visiting San Sebastian for the first time (which I suspect won’t be the last…).

For me, the new model is working a little bit every day so I don’t feel tired and dying for the weekend.

I have come to realize that I don’t need as many holidays as I used to. I can take them whenever I want and also because I’m structuring my day around my personal, professional and social needs rather than on my work only.

I’m not where I want to be yet, to feel comfortable about taking off four to five days every month. But I am getting there and making more progress than if I was doing the alternative +40-hour workweek.

Working myself to death in my 30s and 40s is no longer an option.

Especially if all that is in lieu of a possible retirement when I reach the age of 60, 70 or even 80.

Looking back over my experience I have noticed that I am much more balanced. I have lost some weight, I eat healthier, overall, I feel less exhausted than I used to. More than that, I have the feeling that my productivity almost doubled. One of the biggest areas I have noticed an increase is in my creativity. I don’t remember the last time I felt as creative as today.

If you are a leader, when you go to work tomorrow, look around, if you are working remotely, look into the cameras:

Are the people genuinely happy to be there or are they just waiting for the ‘deadline’?
Are they counting down the days to retirement?
Shouldn’t we aspire to create better work environments where employees feel fulfilled?
Some more Food for Thought this week.

Would be happy to hear your insights and opinions on this subject.

Back to you soon,

P.S. This post was written a few months ago. While writing this piece, I was sitting at Mica Restobar in Madrid. A beautiful place with great service, incredible food, and super friendly people. Today I am sitting across the ocean on the beautiful Portuguese island of Madeira.