Retirement is a strange concept

Retirement seems like a strange concept to me. In common parlance it’s when you have a full time plus job (which you often hate) and then at 65 stop working altogether.

I’m 72 but a consultant and I work on projects I love but not fulltime. I am constantly learning. And, I do lots of things besides work - gardening, baking, local probono projects, time with family and friends. My health and brain are good and I care so much about the future of the world - why would I stop doing work with others to co-create a world where all can thrive? I may gradually slow down… but expect to continue my work until I die.

My main financial strategy is to live very simply. I’m setting up a solo 401K (see so I can invest my retirement funds locally and in other social change projects.


I agree 100%. Edgeryders is going to continue to be, I hope, the home of my projects for the future.

I also see aging as a process where work changes, and its load decreases. But, like you, I see work as a continuum, from 0 to 100%, rather than as an on-off switch.

Plus, building up a job you like is a great investment. Stan Lee, who was already very old, once was asked by a journalist if he planned to retire. He replied “Why would I do that? People retire so they can do what they want. I am already doing what I want!”

Bullseye, and amen to that. :slight_smile:

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I wonder if retirement applies more to people in trades ands factory work because those jobs take such a toll on your body so often. Before I became a knowledge worker I was an auto mechanic. For those three years in my early 30s I could already feel where my body was heading if I stayed banging my knuckles standing on a concrete floor bending over or standing under a car or truck. No disrespect to repetitive stress injuries but I can sure see why someone working at a steel mill for 40+ years would welcome a retirement.

Since I did transition out of the trades, I can do more physically now at 68 than I am sure that I would have had i stayed with mechanics.

@johncoate - I think this is what Bismark thought when he came up with the idea of retirement, for the first time in history, at least that’s the way we know it

“Yes, back in 1889, German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck invented the idea of retirement, establishing the concept for the rest of us. “Those who are disabled from work by age and invalidity have a well-grounded claim to care from the state,” he said at the time.”

I think retirement as it is right now is just too limited in its options, and this is something we’re trying to address in our work (the thread is part of the Biennale of Design work I created, which opened last week in Ljubljana): how do we imagine a plurality of scenarios that fulfill the needs and possibilities of the people best? Also, how do we make us think about retirement when we’re young and busy with making ends meet - this is such a scary and distant prospect! With the project we’re trying to make people imagine it a bit earlier on, also because we believe such imagination is key to empowerment and ability to create futures we like, in general. And the ability to imagine the life we want to lead in a rapidly changing socio-economical landscape will be key to finding strategies for the post-work world we’re hopefully going to enter - because what retirement should be, according to its description, is a meaningful life in which money should not be limiting anymore. This is what I imagine us like when robots take over the boring tasks… :slight_smile:

Thank you, @juneholley, for sharing your experience and ideas - very valuable!

I imagine that the disruption of the multiple-generation family household plays a big role too. By disruption I mean that prior to WWII it was common in western societies for 3 generations to live under the same roof. With the advent of the automobile, suburbs, and other factors this trend diminished considerably. So seniors are more on their own now. And overall lifespan is much longer so seniors have more time on their hands, better health and fewer opportunities to do something they view as a real contribution to either society or a family. Indeed there are organization devoted to helping older people move to doing work in their later years that is more meaningful and satisfying.

I often think of my grandfather who grew up on a farm. had been a professional athlete, became a university professor and was able to fix or build pretty much anything he wanted. By the time he was the age I am now, he had cataracts in his eyes so bad he couldn’t see, and in those days there was no fix for it. So he sat, day after day saying he “wasn’t much good anymore.” Now that is an operation so trivial that you walk out of the clinic in 2 hours.