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Off Your Rocker: Why You Should Never Retire


Here’s the sabbatical mindset – you live the life you want AND work during every phase of it.  Rather than swapping a career for a personal life, both co-exist year in and year out until St. Peter blows his bugle.

The idea that people dispose of their careers after 40 years of plugging away to go play putt-putt in Florida just doesn’t fit in our world anymore.

First on the topic of leaving work. I, for one, don’t want to stop working. And many of my colleagues feel the same.  If you have found work that makes you happy, why would you just all of a sudden throw it away?  No matter how much you hate your job (or hated it, if you’ve maybe just lost it), work gives a structure to your day, lelts you exert influence, offers friendship, and provides a sense of purpose.

Granted, I might want to put aside the work I do presently and determine my next phase of work. (Teaching English in China keeps swirling around my head.) But this is not NOT working.  It’s a career change.

Perhaps you are still clinging to the notion that you deserve retirement.  Professor Erik Sundstrom, founder of My Next Phase and a psychology professor at the University of Tennessee, calls this “vacation confusion.”

That’s the idea that retirement is the rest you deserve after all your years of working.  But after you rest up, now what?  Well, now you are confused, because it turns out that “work” is considerably important to our lives at any age.  It gives us purpose.  We feel fulfilled and satisfied.

My dad is 93 years old and has been retired longer than he worked for General Motors.  He’s proud of that, but if my genes kick in then retiring at 60 might mean 33 years ahead of me.  That’s too long for me to consider not using my skills and talents in meaninful ways.

Here’s another goodie:  suicide rates increase with age, and are especially high among those 65 and older.

So here’s the latest thinking about retirement:  Don’t.

As more and more companies add flexibility to their business strategies (and add sabbatical programs for their employees), you have options for the future.  Start now by adopting a sabbatical mindset that says Work AND Life – all together -now.

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