Why retire? Does it truly serve the individual who retires, and the workforce they leave?

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Why retire? Does it truly serve the individual who retires, and the workforce they leave?

Our current model of retirement is outdated, given that many of us are no longer doing hard manual labour (noted, some still do) and are fit and able to continue working well beyond the retirement age. It would seem that retirement for many has become something to look forward to, a relief from the grind of our day-to-day working lives. And for many now, especially the ones with pension money, retirement is seen as a chance to have a good time, travelling the world or pursuing voluntary and seemingly more worthwhile work.

Retirement looks like a great big carrot dangled in front of us from the moment we start our working lives ... work hard, save hard and look what you can have once you’ve done your time at work.

A big fat private pension awaits if you’re one of the lucky ones, or a government funded pension guaranteed for others.

But is retirement just the macro of the micro day-to-day working life where our days are segmented into ‘my time’ and ‘work time’ with thoughts of:

  • "When’s lunch?"
  • "Is it time to go home yet?"
  • "Thank God it’s Friday"
  • "Only 3 more weeks until my holiday"

... you get the picture. And the big one ...

  • "Only X more years until I retire and can do what I want all day every day!"

With one eye on the clock or calendar, we’re wishing our hours, days, weeks, months and even years away until it’s time to relax, unwind, stop working and finally have time to ourselves ... But are we missing something here?

Living this way, are we not missing out on enjoying our work and the people we are with now – in full?

It’s not uncommon to hear of people who die just a few short years after retiring, or who become very ill, or just lose interest in life. Work gives us routine, order, connection with others and a sense of fulfilment and purpose in the world.

When this stops, what then? And what then for the workforce?

When an older person leaves the workforce to retire it leaves a big gaping hole – all their wisdom, experience and knowledge gained over a lifetime is gone in a moment as they walk out the door.

What if we started to see the absolute value of older workers and provided a transitioning for them into roles where they could mentor, coach and support younger workers? Roles that see older people working hours that suit and support their physical capabilities.

Would it not then be absolutely natural for us all to work in a productive capacity right up to the time when our physical bodies were no longer able to, and to then graciously leave our workplace knowing we had served and supported others almost right to our last breath?

Maybe its time we redefined what true retirement looks like

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Why we need to commit to life to the very end

The way we live and die in this life has a bearing on our next life.

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Health conditionsCareerWork life balanceAgeingMoneyRetirement