Growing up, you always hear that everyone’s dream is to work hard, earn lots of money quickly and retire as early as possible  (maybe at 65, 55 or 45 if you can wing it).  Well, I say forget it!  That doesn’t sound like a dream at all. 

Imagine working your butt off at 80 -100 hour weeks for 20-40 years so you can retire early.  In the meantime, you may delay time to enjoy life; you may skip precious family time and vacations; you may delay time to find someone special; you may work your body to death.  And for what?  So you can enjoy yourself after you retire, with probably a series of health issues and nothing to do.  

I say no!  We are no longer our parents’ generation.  To have a dream career path also means allowing time to enjoy NOW not later.  How do you do that?  I say the first part is Enjoy Often.  This could mean any or all of the following

  • taking a semester off from school to back pack in Europe
  • taking all your vacation time every year
  • taking a summer off every few years of work to do something fun / innovative / different
  • taking 6 months off to be with your first baby

This is possible now if we demand it and have the skills the market needs. I like this picture because I am the type that hates being bored.  I can never really see myself stop working completely, which brings us to the second part – never retire. The day I retire is the day I will begin to die and Singapore’s Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew agrees. 

As the world’s longest surviving national leader with 50 year in office, Lee states in 2008 that retirement = death.  Statistics shows  people tended to die shortly after retiring, and that the most important lesson he had learned was that we all need stimuli.   Lee added that he usually asked people who want to retire at age 62, “You really want to die quickly?” He said his advice is: “Keep yourself interested, have a challenge.”

If you know you will work for the rest of your life, what will you do differently now?  What enjoyment will you plan now?  You have all your life to work, so don’t rush it.  Find your passion and build your skills over time.  Also take breaks to refresh your brain, to take care of your health, to give time to personal life and family life and ultimately enjoy the journey all throughout life and NOW. 

If this is your new career and life goal, does it change your perspective? your current path? I look forward to your comments.  Good luck out there!

– Lei

3 Thoughts on “Enjoy Often and Never Retire

  1. Pingback: Career Break - How Long Can You Take?

  2. Totally. I often find that people who retire later are sharper, and more in tuned with life.

  3. David on March 16, 2010 at 6:18 am said:

    I agree.

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