“There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want. ~ Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes
“To be or not to be?” may have one day been the question but today, especially for many baby boomers, the big question is whether or not to retire from the workforce. Each day more and more Boomers enter their golden years, traditionally the time to call it a career, but recent research shows that Boomers are having some problems with that notion. True to form and revealing just a bit of the rebellious nature we were once so well know for, many Boomers are choosing to buck tradition and staying on the job longer, in some cases much longer.
Now I know that this seems to be contrary to the counter culture norms we Boomers grew up with. We were the peace, love, dove generation, we professed sex drugs and rock and roll as a way of life. Our rallying cry “make love not war.” We were often criticized for our radical ideas, open drug use and viewed as lazy, moral less, long haired degenerates. I can still hear my dad’s outrage “Why don’t those bums get a job? They need to learn the value of working!” Well it took awhile but we did finally return to the mainstream and became contributing members of society. But I question how many of us really learned the value of hard work, instead I believe we learned the value of the dollars we made from working and the potential to earn even more. Yes dad, we cut our hair and went to work, and now many of us refuse to stop working. Go figure.
Personally, I had absolutely no problem when I decided to go the traditional route and chose to retire. In fact, although I thoroughly loved my job as a high school counselor I chose to do so early. I just couldn’t pass up the “golden handshake” offered by my district that allowed me to shave a few years off my original retirement plan. I don’t care if ’60 is the new 50′, I’m glad I left the work force at 61. I have absolutely no regrets. I think most people look forward to retirement. I believe they long for that wondrous day when they can leave the work force behind and at long last call it a career. Retiring is our reward for a lifetime of dedication and hard work, the grand prize for putting in our time on the job.
Of course there are those Boomers who will choose to never retire and some of them have good reason. Some Boomers simply love what they they do and have absolutely no desire to stop doing it. They have developed a healthy balance between work, family and leisure time that works for them and that’s okay. But for others there is only one reason for choosing not to retire and that is fear. Fear of the unknown. They are scared and there are many things that potential retirees are afraid of, most of them unwarranted. It’s like being afraid of the dark. You just don’t know what’s out there waiting for you.
The number one fear is financial. They worry that they don’t have enough money saved to retire comfortably or that they will be forced to change their living arrangements, possibly even be forced to sell their home and move into a much smaller condo or a rental, or God forbid even homeless and living on the streets! They worry about whether they will be able to continue dining at their favorite restaurants or vacationing. They worry whether they will be bored or whether they will miss their workmates and whether they will be able to handle being with their significant other all those additional hours. They worry if being together all day long, each and every day will drive them crazy. They worry about loss of independence and what they will do all day. They worry if maybe they will die if they stop working, if they don’t have a purpose. Believe me the list goes on and on.
Having some doubts about retirement is normal, but irrational fears should not hold you back from calling it a career and beginning your life of leisure. If you have planned and have all your ducks in a row fear should not be a deterrent. Embrace your uncertainty and jump into the pool. The water may be a little cold at first but believe me you get used to it quickly. Retirement can be a wonderful part of the life journey don’t miss out on it because of some unfounded fear. Just do it!