Retirement: does it still have a place in the modern world?

I recently came across an interesting post in the local news site about this question of does retirement in our 50’s and 60’s still have a place in the modern world?

It’s an interesting question when you consider retirement, or more commonly a retirement pension, was a concept created by German statesman Otto von Bismarck in the 1880’s (funnily enough, the man who also introduced sickness and accident insurance to the world in 1883 in a bid to stop young German men emigrating to America), retirement was a pension plan introduced to provide an income stream for workers who reached the age of 70. A time when life expectancy for most males was mid 60’s and for most females was late 60’s.

Modern retirement though has been something fought hard for by trade unions globally and until recently stood firm at 65. At a time when life expectancy has pushed out to our mid 80’s.

Should we hold firm at the current thoughts around retirement, or should we change our thinking to live a better life, a sort of pre-tirement so we can eventually slow down but still contribute and live a life of purpose later into our lives when we still are capable and willing to contribute.

The below is from Professor Gary Martin, chief executive at the Australian Institute of Management WA and was printed by PerthNow on August 16th 2020

Retirement, an invention of the 20th century, is disappearing faster than a buttered bullet fired from a rifle.

And it is not simply because the coronavirus has had a huge impact on super balances, forcing people to stay in the workforce longer than they anticipated.

The primitive idea of retirement was based on the notion that in your 60s, or even your late 50s, you replaced the day-to-day grind called work with a life of joy and leisure, funded by superannuation and investments, or savings strung together during your working life.

If you are in that age bracket, you have probably been flooded with advice on the various retirement choices on offer.

But have you considered the option of not retiring?

We have been completely brainwashed by those with conflicting interests into thinking we should retire when we reach the 60s. For starters, retiring between the age of 55 and 65 is underpinned by an old-school assumption that you are, well, old.

Many of us will now live into our 80s (and beyond), thus rendering the 60s the new 50s, and the 50s the new 40s.

Of course, with age comes limitations to completing physically demanding jobs. But with increasing life expectancy and better health, many are able to make a valuable contribution for longer to workplaces of various types.

And it does not make any sense — if we are able-bodied and our mind is willing — to give up something we thoroughly enjoy and look forward to each day simply for tradition’s sake.

Retirement was once seen as freeing us from a lifetime of drudgery — called work — so we could spend time enjoying ourselves.

But we should learn from millennials and the next generation who, as examples, no longer let work stand in the way of their plans. Many of them embrace more flexible career choices that allow them to experience fulfilment throughout their lives, not just at the end of it. Besides, if so many of us take the plunge and retire, why do an increasing number decide after just a few years to “unretire” and re-enter the workforce?

Many retirees do this because they find that giving up work was not all it was cracked up to be, despite the new-found freedom.

A longer life expectancy comes with increased retirement costs, too. Funding a 20 or 30-year retirement is a different proposition to funding a 10-year one.

Let’s not forget also that having some structure in the day, stimulation and being social all play a key role in keeping us young. Our working life regularly provides all three.

Don’t be easily fooled by those around us who seek to trick us into retirement.

Instead, become a trendsetter and form part of the growing movement of unofficial semi-retirees who balance the golf course, crosswords, trips away and long lunches with bosses, team meetings, presentations and spreadsheets.

Article published on LinkedIn in the week starting 17th August 2020

 

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