Retirement: Always a Student


In this blog post I explore where retirement came from and how you can always be a student.

Where did this idea of Retirement come into being? Before the Industrial Age of 1885 to 1929 there was not much of a standard retirement. Also older people were revered for their wisdom and know how. The Great Depression (1930-1940) turned retirement into a duty. Essentially forcing those close to a certain age out in order for younger workers to get in. When America was setting up their current Social Security system they actually looked to Germany as a model. Retirement was essentially a concept that was invented due the progress of the Industrial Age.

People get worried when they are not able to retire by a certain age. Or scared that they will not have enough money for retirement. Retirement is contingent upon a person having the means and wisdom to manage a 401k in order to get out of the stock market at just the right time before it crashes and lose significant wealth. It is a dicey situation. Then once in retirement an individual truly does not know if they have raised enough in order to enjoy the life they have wanted to live.

In our modern culture if a person works past 65 it is considered an oddity or is regarded as something is wrong with them.I believe it is perfectly normal to work late into your 60’s and 70’s and there is no shame at all in doing it. In fact, it could be a healthy thing for individual to continue to work if that is what they wish to do. The Genesis creation story Adam is set in the garden was assigned to care for it. The point was that even in a place like the Garden of Eden that mankind had something to do and be responsible for.

Here is the issue, people are living longer today than ever before. This is a good thing. When retirement was introduced it was believed that a person would only get to enjoy it for a few years. With the advancement in medicine people live well into their 80’s and even 90’s. Again nothing wrong with enjoying your retirement. However, it was not intended to last twenty plus years. On a side note, if you are able to do this and retire be retired for over twenty years then more power to you. I’ll give you all the props you want.

You can continue to work and even find happiness in the career you are in currently. The key to working in any field and any career is a simple profound statement, “Always be a student.” One thing I always admired about my dad was he was always reading or studying something. In the late 1990’s he became his advertising firm’s go-to computer expert. What are some ways we can be always a student.

  1. Maintain a healthy Curiosity. It is curiosity that drives us to know why something is the way that it is. Walt Disney said, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we are curious and curiosity keeps leading down new paths.” Typically is thought that youth leads to innovation however it is actually curiosity leads to innovation.
  2. Be open, be flexible. Stubbornness can be a great trait, if used properly. However, it can equally be a destructive quality. I just finished watching History‘s The Cars that made America. Henry Ford was profiled as an innovator with a strong will to succeed.  However, while his strong mindedness helped him achieve so much it equally led to his downfall when he clung to the Model T when sales free fell.
  3. Be evolving. This is not so much about your career as it is more about you. Everything changes in life, nothing stays the same. If we resist this concept then it will continue to persist and so will our frustration. No one limits us but us. If you are bored at work or with life then it is only because you have decided it needs to be this way. I explore this a little bit in my new book The Power of Ownership. When everything changes then change everything. When I was told my services were no longer needed at a church I worked at I took it as a disaster. However it was the greatest blessing, besides my wife. It gave me the opportunity I never would have had to explore and even move to a new state.

I am not against retirement, if you can swing it then great. However, we were made to work and even retirement was created for us to only enjoy a few years. The point is you were made to do something. Next time we will explore how to find your purpose.

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