Sunday, November 6, 2011

Is it time to retire yet?

The challenge of retirement is how to spend time without spending money.  ~Author Unknown

Due to all the stress going on at work I casually made this comment the other day to my good friend "I am so ready to retire" to which he nicely responded "You are too young to retire".  That is the kindness of friendship....the real statement should be at the rate of what things cost, should your boys want to go to college or even scarier graduate schools, then well you will never retire...or will when you are past the point of being able to do those things that many of us dream about.  It may be dreams of languid travel not when the working/school calendar rest of the people are on vacation but those off season ones that do not need to be scheduled around work or school.  It may be thoughts of writing, painting, reading, golf, tennis, insert your activity of choice here.  Maybe you are just looking forward to not having to leave the house at a certain time or chasing hours in the day between when the kids leave and they come back.  


All these are wonderful things to do and yet with the economy, current cost of living and thoughts on the opportunities I would like to provide my children I am no longer sure what the "number" is that I need to be able to say "gimme the cheesy gold tone watch and see ya later".  Part of that comes also with the uncertainty of working in this era because even the self employed cannot guarantee how long their jobs will last and "lifers" will be a term only seen in historical context for my and future generations if they work in corporations of any size.  The Europeans seemed to know how to do this at an age when they could do the things mentioned above or simply nothing if they chose as they retire earlier....well that too is probably only to be seen in history books.  The current debt crisis in Greece, and spreading to many other countries, along with expanding life expectancy and lower birth rates show us that they may have been able to do it in the past but have destroyed the same opportunity for many future generations.  


It is a pretty bleak picture...or is it?  I dream of retirement mostly because I am tired and stressed with current times but let's face it I am a self admitted Type C (yes there is one) personality...I like things to move fast, love New York for this reason, and am usually pretty done with the languid life within 48 hours.  I do not really want to retire and have really always been bit dismissive of the early retirement of many of the European countries. I do not think either the EU or the US model actually works...a blend but that would take getting out of crisis on both continents for long enough to be able to proactively plan a future.   I do not say that with judgement but because I actually like having something to do that requires timelines and commitment.  I would like to be able to retire in my late 60s or at latest 70 but that is partially because I see people who still work and have a purpose seem to be able to maintain their faculties for longer.  It is a self-awareness that comes from many years of therapy that has made me comfortable with the fact that I take pride in my work and like to work at a chaotic pace.  I do not like the uncertainty that current work situations have put me and the rest of us in.  I believe we need to find a way to keep older people engaged and the way to put their incredible experience to use while allowing them to potentially part time retire.  I want to be able to travel, paint, write, cook, and appreciate the down time without worrying about my financial existence at the end of my life.  


I am not sure when retirement will come or if it will be imposed upon me by a workforce that does not see the value in keeping older employees.  I am not sure if I will have the "number" needed to maintain the lifestyle I thought I worked my whole life to retire toward.  I am sure that I will enjoy the time I have every day instead of only worrying about this because some of it is so out of my control.  I will keep planning my Golden Girls with an apartment in Manhattan discussions with my best friends (hey dreams are free at any age).  Mostly I will keep trying to be active in my mind and body so when I do "retire" it will be at least somewhat on my terms and with the minimal regrets of what I should have done or said before I retired.  

Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save... Anonymous

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