The Artificial Finish Line

Doing work we despise or being in circumstances we deplore depletes our spirit. The reason so many find themselves in such scenarios is because they have been sold on an idea about retirement that is flawed to the core: the idea that we should do what we do not enjoy to accumulate the money we need to someday do what we want.

This hope of doing what we want is why the concept of retirement is alluring to so many. Many individuals are not in the race they want to run in. They see getting to the retirement age with a mountain of money as the only way to get out that race. The problem is compounded when we realize that we have been convinced to run toward an artificial finish line in a race that was never meant to end. This artificial finish line is the retirement age, or whatever age you believe you should retire. The race is the employment of our skills and ideas as long as we still enjoy using them. If we truly love what we do, although we may slow down our pace or change the event we run in, we never truly quit the race.

And why have so many people given their life to work they don’t enjoy? The reason is simply because they need the money. Why do they need the money? So they can have enough to retire at a certain age and do what they want. Great! We sacrifice 40 prime productive years so we can have free reign for the autumn and/or winter years.

Although you may not have heard much about it, those who do get to the magic retirement age and drop out of the race are not altogether happy with their decision. They do it, however, because they felt as though they had to. Disillusionment rates are sky-high for retirees. According to one survey, 41 percent say retirement was the most difficult adjustment of their life and lack of intellectual stimulation that traditional retirement offers.

There is a good reason these retirees are not happy – retirement is an unnatural idea. The concept runs contrary to the preservation of the human spirit. Most people don’t want retirement as we know it. What they want is freedom to pursue their own goals and interests. They want to call their own shots. They want to do what they want, when they want, and where they want. They want change from the rut that their life of employment has become. We have been told that the right amount of money alone can buy that emancipation.

And that is why we are so vulnerable to the messages that tell us we need a certain amount of money to set ourselves free. But this simply is not true. This website is full of stories of people who are living the life they want – today – and not all have a lot of money. Because of twisted ideas about retirement, we have put the money cart ahead of the ‘life’ horese. We say we are saving money so that we can someday have a life, bt in the process we are delaying having a life so that we can scrounge up enough money. Too many people wait far too long.

With some financial creativity and a new story regarding retirement you can both find and fund the life you really want – if not now, it is entirely possible within the next three to five years. Achieving emancipation from your working life will involve negotiating your lifestyle, philosphy and financial habits, and finding a way to put first things first. First, decide the heroine’s or hero’s journey you must take to do the work you love, and, second, put together a plan to pay for that privilege. We must adopt a much more resourceful approach if we hope to make the transition into a life of doing what we love.

About Peter de Kuster

Peter de Kuster is the founder of Passion Never Retires and The Heroine’s Journey & Hero’s Journey project,  a storyteller which helps professionals to create careers and lives based on whatever story is most integral to their lifes and careers (values, traits, skills and experiences). Peter’s approach combines in-depth storytelling and marketing expertise, and for over 20 years clients have found it effective with a wide range of creative business issues.


Peter is writer of the series The Heroine’s Journey and Hero’s Journey books, he has an MBA in Marketing,  MBA in Financial Economics and graduated at university in Sociology and Communication Sciences.

To contact Peter and book him for a speaking engagement or seminar send him a mail at