I just got off the phone with a financial planner who gave me a little tidbit of info: Only 8 percent of the people in this country have enough money to retire on.
Before you freak out and get all doomsday-y, let’s see how this could be an opportunity for you.
What if you let go of the idea that you have to do the daily grind to “save for retirement”?
I frequently hear people sigh and say things like, “Well, I have to keep working at this place I hate to save for retirement. That’s just reality.”
Says who? How much of your life is being dictated by your future retirement?
First of all, are you sure retirement will make you happy? Just like in life, some people are happy in retirement and some are not. Retirement presents its own challenges. Many people face isolation, boredom and depression because they’ve lost their identity, their purpose and their schedule, all of which is fixable, but retirement isn’t an automatic ticket to idyllic wonder. It may sound funny, but you kinda have to work at retirement in order to enjoy it.
Secondly, saving for retirement doesn’t get rid of your fear. It may give you an excuse for why you’re staying at the job you hate, but trust me. Fear will always find another way to get inside your head. You can overcome fear, but it is unlikely that you can eradicate fear from your life. Fear doesn’t mean something is wrong—it often means something is unknown, and we are afraid of the unknown.
Let me be clear: I’m not saying you shouldn’t save for retirement. That’s not my point. Here’s what I am advocating for.
Create a career and life that you don’t want to retire from.
Figure out what you want and go after it.
That’s my goal. How would it change your perspective on this whole retirement thing if you just never really needed to retire?
For 2017, I’m examining my own beliefs about money, success and happiness. I invite you to observe and question your beliefs about money—and whether they actually lead you to greater happiness.
Research from Princeton scholars published in 2006 showed that you need about $75,000 a year, (be sure to adjust for inflation) to have enough money to be happy. This seems to be the level at which basic needs and comforts are met.
What they also found is that more money doesn’t make you more happy. Once we earn a certain amount of money to cover our needs, then the pursuit of happiness is much more of a spiritual quest.
Which brings me to something Franklin D. Roosevelt said: “Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”
What if our purpose on the planet is to find our path to happiness? Meaningful and fulfilling work is part of that path, not because of the money, but because honest work is good for the soul.
I talk to a lot of people who don’t want to retire. They have more brain juice, energy and wisdom to share. They just don’t want to work like a dog or for their lives to be a grind. What they want is more autonomy over their time, what they work on and who they work with.
Basically, they want to work and have fun because they get what FDR was talking about: happiness lies in the joy of creating and achieving.
Well, why wait?
What could you create, what problems could you solve, who could you help if you’re not grinding away 40-80 hours/week at a company or job you don’t particularly like?
So I’m giving it a go. I’m creating a life that I don’t have to retire from.
I have no intention of ever working a 40-hour work week on a regular basis.
Am I afraid? Hell yes. It scared me to even write that sentence about the 40-hour work week because I’m afraid the gods of the universe will strike me down.
But fear is part of life. And that’s partly why I’m doing it. I want to see what I’m capable of creating. For the joy and thrill of it. For not allowing my life to be ruled by fear and “what ifs.”
I am learning that there is nothing scarier than committing to and taking responsibility for what I want. I am betting on myself. (Yikes!)
When was the last time you bet on yourself?
What if, instead of “what iffing,” you commit to going after what you truly want?
So. I. Am. Doing. This. Thang.
But I’ll tell you what I’ve learned about myself recently and it surprised the hell out of me.
I am not lazy. I actually like working. It feels good. I love the work I do with my clients. I love writing. And I love teaching, and now I get to do all of those things.
In order for me to be here writing this blog post, I had to take the leap. I had to go all in on ME. And stop worrying about retirement.
I’ll keep you posted on how it all turns out.
If you want to chat with me about creating a career you won’t have to retire from, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. Free session for first-timers.