Before you answer, have you based your retirement wishes on the average retirement definition, or formed your own?
It seems like, generally speaking, most people define retirement as being able to quit the 9 to 5 job, and spend the rest of their life doing what pleases them. That could mean a cabin on a lake and fishing every day. Maybe traveling in a motor home or cruising in a boat. Whatever your retirement wishes may be, the standard way to do it has been force fed to us by people we don't even know.
All we have heard for years is that you have to bust your hump for 30 plus years so you can feed your 401K and still feed yourself at the same time. Then you will be able to retire and live the good life. Whatever! Those don't seem like good words of wisdom for retirement to me. I've seen what people look like after doing that plan, and I don't want any part of it. Most of them are worn out, overweight, dependent on several different medications and have no purpose in life anymore.
Think about it. You know I'm right.
It reminds me of running a car engine at redline (maximum engine speed) all the time, never changing the oil and then wondering why it blew up at 10,000 miles. Duh! If you run it and maintain it like it was designed to be, it will last a long time. The same principle holds true for us humans. We can sprint for a short time, but a distance race requires a slower and more steady pace.
What if you decided to go a different route? To abandon the way most people go and maybe get a new set of retirement wishes based on an old way of living life. Of not just fading away, but finding something you really want to do. Something of value to people, that will energize you and that you can do for many years.
Instead of trying to stop working altogether, find something you want to do and DO IT. If you don't want to continue what you are doing now for the rest of your life, it doesn't mean your only alternative is a 401K and fade away. Figure it out! Think about what you would like to accomplish and then map out a plan. It doesn't have to be perfect. But it does need action.
We all know that less stress helps you physically. So why do something all your life that you hate? It really does drag you down. It's OK to do it for a while, until you can get another plan together. Just don't wait too long. Before you know it, 20 years will fly by.
Have you ever thought about how we live now compared to only 200 years ago? Before pensions, 401K's and credit cards. How did we ever survive without all that? Yes, we have a lot of good things that have come about also. I'm thankful for them too. But the idea that we must put all of our hope in a system that is shaky at best, instead of in our own abilities, does not make sense. I'm not saying that you shouldn't plan ahead. We definitely should. Just don't forget to think for yourself along the way.
One of the first things I remember learning when I was in submarine school was to always have a questioning attitude. Not insubordinate, but always questioning to yourself if what you are being told is safe and correct. And if it wasn't, to speak up. That way you don't take the whole crew down with you just because you were afraid to say so.
Please keep in mind, I'm not responsible for what you do or how you do it. Your strategy and methods can only be determined by you. So if you want to go the average route, then do it. It's your choice. I'm sure it will work out OK for some. If you're happy to live that way, then who am I to tell you any different? There's no wrong or right here. Whatever you think is best for you is what you should do. As long as you have given it enough thought and consulted with the right people, you should come out OK.
The big key is to Think.
There are many ways to accomplish your retirement wishes. A lot of those ways aren't very obvious, but it doesn't mean that you can't discover them. You just have to keep trying. You're not defeated until you quit. So don't quit.
Mitch Ferguson, April 2009