In the past month, two people have asked me when I’m retiring. But neither one called it “retiring”. They called it “transitioning”. I’m assuming they meant “retiring”, and not “dying”.
I know three people who retired in their 40s. They were successful business owners who sold their businesses. They played a lot of golf, and they did some travelling. Two of the three people went back to work within a year of retiring. I guess they got tired of playing golf.
I also have an uncle who is in his late 80’s, and works every day. He doesn’t do it for the money. He works every day because he loves what he does.
If I were given the choice between “stopping work in my 40s” or “loving my work in my 80s”, I would rather love my work in my 80s.
Right now I love what I do for a living. I’m lucky that I have stimulating work, and I work with really good people. I love having someplace to go every day, where there are interesting problems to solve, and really smart people who know how to solve them. What I really want is to love what I do, and have the ability to continue to do it.
A positive side benefit of working is that I value my free time more. My experience has been that if I have too much free time (like on a long vacation), I just fritter it away. But when I only have a little bit of free time, I make the most of it. I love the structure and discipline of working.
I realize that I may not be able to work into my 80s. I don’t know anyone in my industry who is still working at that age. I might have to find other things to do with my time. What would I do with my time?
My wife and I started doing charitable work a few years ago. We have been volunteering with a few of organizations, and serve on the boards for two of them. I’d like to increase that type of work, if I have the time to do so in the future. I am reminded of a quote that goes something like “of whom much is given, much is expected”. I have been given a lot in my life, and I hope to repay the favor.
My wife and children love to travel, so I’d like to help make that possible for them, and join them. (You noticed that I didn’t say “I love to travel”. I’ve travelled overseas almost 100 times now. I don’t love airplanes and hotels anymore. I don’t love “getting there”. But I still love exploring, once I “get there”).
I think that the word “retiring” means “quitting” for a lot of people. For a lot of people, retiring is the end of something. I’m not ready for the end of anything yet.