Do I Ever Want To Retire?
Retire, why would I want to do that? My wife and I are living in Ajijic, Mexico, one of the oldest expat and retirement locations in Mexico. Therefore, it is often assumed that I am retired.
We have been here for a little over 2 years and I run this website and the Career Pivot Membership Community from south of the border.
I have worked since I was 14 years of age and for most of my career, I enjoyed what I did. My father was an economist for the New York Stock Exchange for 25+ years before he was forced into retirement at 58 years of age. He had a generous pension, but being forced into retirement before he wanted to retire killed him. It took 15 years, but he died because he could no longer do what he loved.
I do not want to be like my father.
Like a lot of people my age, I recently celebrated my 64th birthday, and are either having their retirement plans upended or being forced into retirement.
Now is the time to rethink what your future looks like. Do you want to work into your 70s?
Note: This post was originally published in October of 2018 and was updated in July of 2020.
COVID-19 Pandemic Shakeup
For many of the over 50 population, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a big wake up call. Those who have been able to stay employed have moved their work to their home. This is good for some and bad for others. A number of the Career Pivot Community members have told me they savor the quiet time which helps them concentrate. Others miss the comradery of the office so much although there are many more who prefer working from home.
If you are unemployed you may have to take a lifeboat job. This is a new term I was recently introduced to me. If we want to recover from this pandemic we just might have to fill the lifeboats by taking what I have always referred to as survival jobs.
As there have been massive job losses in certain industries like aviation, check out my post Industry Disruption in the Post COVID-19 World – Aviation, there is a huge need for essential workers. Unfortunately, this includes retail where almost 25% of retail positions are filled by those of us over 55 years of age. If you are concerned about your health these are not the types of jobs for you.
For many of you, the choice may be to take a lifeboat job that may imperil your health or retire. I suspect that next year, there will many more economic refugees retiring overseas.
The question I want to pose to you is there another alternative?
Do I Have to Retire?
We have been planning to move out of the U.S. since the early 1980’s when I had an assignment in what was then West Germany working for IBM. This came to head with our current health care and health insurance crisis for baby boomers in late 2016, right before the presidential election. You can read more about this in the post The Looming Healthcare and Insurance Catastrophe for Baby Boomers.
I have since carefully planned the move which you can follow in the here.
Now that we have relocated to Ajijic, Mexico, I have met all kinds of people from the U.S., Canada, and other parts of the world who are retired. We met a couple of women the other day playing cards at a local taco restaurant. They enjoyed all of the activities that were available to them. Their husbands regularly play golf at several of the golf courses in the area. My visceral response was “yuck”.
If this is what it means to retire, I want no part of it.
Meaning and Purpose
Ever since my bicycle accident in 2002, I have been seeking meaning and purpose in what I do with my life. The thought of spending my days playing games or doing other activities that do not fill a mission is not what I want to do.
We have met many here who are actively involved with a variety of charities that help the local school children, spay and neuter cats and dogs, rescue street dogs, support the arts, and many other worthwhile endeavors. Over time I will likely become involved with one or more of these efforts.
Maybe I am a little selfish, but I want to work on what I want to work on. I created Career Pivot in 2012 to help my peers and friends who were adversely affected by the Dot Com bust and then the great recession. It is something that I feel I can have an impact and yes, make a few dollars doing.
I am mission-driven.
Work Less, On My Terms
I have decided I do not want to retire.
What I do want is:
- To work as hard as I want to work
- Work on something I am passionate about
- Stretch me to learn new things
- To work when I want to work
I want to work less, on my terms, on what I want to work on.
It is rather interesting, this coincides with what the Career Pivot Community membership has told me.
- To work on what they want to work on when they want to work on it, and on their terms
- Have accountability
Lastly, they need to have their horizons broadened. There are so many new ways to work and make money.
Am I being unreasonable? I do not want to retire like my father and many of the people I meet.
I want to continue to contribute to society in a way that I control.
I have chronicled many who have made a career pivot later in life on the Repurpose Your Career Podcast. It is possible.
Check out the following episodes:
- From Mining Engineer To Small Business Consultant [Podcast]
- “Hole in the Donut” Cultural Blogger – Encore Episode with an Update [Podcast]
- 2nd Chance Entrepreneur in the 2nd half of Life – HouseSitMexico.com [Podcast]
- Paul Vogelzang Talks About “The’Not Old — Better Show” [Podcast]
- Russ Eanes Turns the Walk of a Lifetime into a Writing and Consulting Career #143 [Podcast]
- Paul Tasner Became an Entrepreneur at Age 66 [Podcast]
What you will notice after listening to these stories is that none of them have a full-time job working for an employer but they all had been traditional employees.
They all love what they do and are working on their terms.
They do not want to retire!
What about you?Marc Miller
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Follow your wants and interests don’t settle for the traditional path when there may be many paths to retirement happiness. Sharing a higher positive purpose to assist those in need great to see Marc creating a fresh approach to retirement more like active retirement with a purpose. The fortunate few who can afford to retire when pensions and social security are in doubt.
great comment Felipe – I agree
Ian Bond says
I can’t imagine ever retiring and mentally checking out. Like you, this came from my father, and his father before him. They believed the countdown started when you quit being mentally active and inquisitive.
I love “I want to do what I want to”. Perfect!
Rhea Rosvold says
Hi just wondering if you had more examples for women who are un-retiring?
Marc Miller says
Go listen to the Hole in the Donut and House Sit Mexico podcasts. Both are women.
Rosanne Holton says
I enjoyed this column. My husband and I have both led active and purpose filled lives. We both work 4 days each week now – Monday thru Thursday. We love the fact that we do not have to be in charge but are able to offer the benefit of experience and career skills while also learning new skills from those we work with. I work with a non-profit in multiple capacities. They tell me I am their best utility player. My husband works with a home health care company in marketing. He also handles IT and database needs. We have always said we would not retire. We might go to 3 days per week but we will always stay in the game. I feel very fortunate that my supervisor thanked me for being willing to work with the much younger staff. Why wouldn’t I? They learn from me and I learn from them. It is very positive.
We, older workers, have so much to offer! We have strong work ethics and consistently turn in strong performances. Where is the problem with that? All we ask is for some flexibility with our schedules which can be pre-arranged. Once that is in place, all of the other activities can come into play or not if they don’t appeal.
By the way, the work from home schedules were made for us! I have been in my home office since mid March. I work my regular hours, join Zoom meetings and have led a book club for the staff. Honestly, I think employers are finally noticing that an older worker on staff is an asset.
I would like to share my motto with you. If every day is Saturday, Saturday is no longer special. You do not need to let that happen to you.
Thanks, again, for your comments!