Old Stories and New Realities

For many these stories and messages inspire urgency and thrift; for many others they inspire only fear, self – loathing, and hopelessness. Such messages as ‘You won’t have enough’ or ‘if you would have bought this fund 30 years ago it would be worth x million euros today’ create a sense of dread and failure in those listeners who were buying more ice creams and travels abroad with their disposable income 30 years ago.

For the millions of professionals who don’t own a fat nest egg these messages stir feelings of hopelessness because they are convinced that they will arrive at the age 65 economic leap with no safety net or precious metals parachute based on their current income and level of savings. They know they will never be able to amass the small fortune that ‘retirement experts’ tell them they must hoard to have anything but a beggar’s sunset in their life. The modern retirement portrait, as painted by the financial services industry, is truly a doubleheaded dragon, because the vision that has been promoted for the last 50 years is not only an illusion but is also unrealistic.

The illusion has been that of sipping tropical drinks on a Carribean beach and setting tee times for the rest of your waking life.  “All this is yours” once you retire, and the earlier you retire the better. Possibly you’ve met some people who swalled this illusion and are living with the hangover of boredom and purposelessness in their life. I have met many such people and the look in their eyes inspired me to create Passion Never retires. Many who bought the story of retiring from the race find themselves bored with not being in the race. Many have found that this boredom has led them to self-destructive patterns of behavior. Many have accelerated their aging process as the chaines of disenfranchised habits grew heavier and weighed on their health. It all adds up to one inescapable conclusion: retirement is an unnatural condition! Even if you can afford to retire, the worst thing you can do is withdraw completely from the race.

When you ask retirees how they’re doing, they often reply, ‘I’m keeping busy’. This is an acknowledgment of the activity void that retirement has brought. They are truly happy when they are busy doing what they love. If they are not busy, they are most likely not very happy.

The image of retirement that we have been sold has simply been untrue. According to recent surveys 40% of the retirees report that retirement was a difficult adjustment. The reason the adjustment to retirement is so difficult to so many is simple: retirement as it has been defined for us was never meant to be. Retirement is an illusion because those who can afford the illusion are disillusioned by it and those who cannot afford the illusion are haunted by it.

Which brings us to the dragon’s other head; many people cannot afford to retire in the manner that has been promoted by the retirement savings industry. It is simply unrealistic for many to find a way to put away enough money every month to have a million euros waiting to serve them at age 65 or at any other age for that matter. True, many people could save more as well as exercise more financial discipline. But why should the one-third of our population that is doing its best with what it has walk around feeling bad about today because it cannot reach a tomorrow that somebody else has defined for it?

Two problems are apparant with these pervasive and frequently reported scare tactics in the media. First, they can be easily disputed and disproven. Second these arguments are founded on a fabricated and now crumbling foundation – that is,  we should retire at age 65 or even earlier if possible. Most of us will not completely retire at 65 or any other age for that matter. We, as a generation, are not interested in artificial finish lines.

Passion Never Retires Challenge  

Quest-ion:  Is the goal to be invested and well, or well and invested?

What is your story?  Should I review my own story about retirement?

Research it:  What am I saving? Where am I saving?

Decide and take action:

  • Talk to my spouse or significant other about retirement.
  • Collect and organize my financial information