Retirement, I have spent most of my working life thus far hearing about retirement as the long-awaited reward to a life spent working. Most of the original thoughts towards this euphoric end is that we finally get to rest from all the these years of labor. Dotted along the retirement landscape is the idyllic vision of resting in a comfortable rocker on a covered porch wiling away the hours in the sunset of our life.
As the years progressed the vision has morphed due in part to the realities of life , the maturing of the mind and in many cases the realization that social security would not be enough to live on. The studies started sending balloon popping arrows into the fantasy with tales of those who died without ever reaching the attainment age, the effects of a sedentary lifestyle markedly decreasing our longevity and the lack of financial planning derailing the idea of not needing to earn an income.
As I look ahead I no longer consider retirement through my once rose-colored glasses. I am still about 20 years away and have radically altered how I see my sunset. There is no plan to stop working at all… ever. There is no expectation that countless years of income removed from my check will somehow return to me through a government administered safety net, and I have no desire to sit in a rocking chair and watch those still living, wave as they pass me by.
What I do envision is a time where the work I do will be self-directed and meaningful, not so much with the idea that it will produce an income but rather more in how it may be an extension of my passions and a purpose to enrich others. Planning now to live below my means in order that later, those savings will provide for what needs my wife and I may have, seems a far better course than living with some fantastic idea that someone else will take care of it for me. Finally, I want to participate in this life I have until my last breath, if at all possible!
Gone are the days of the fairy tale retirement once painted for me, I think gone are the days for us all. Planning and having a realistic view of what your retirement will look like may not provide you with the dreamy vision you once held in the recesses of your mind but it will increase your chances of actually achieving it!