Retirement Needs a Rebrand

For a second, I want you to close your eyes and imagine someone that’s in retirement.

Did it include sitting on a beach every day without a worry in the world, a job to do, and a margarita in your hand? I’d be lying if I told you that’s not what I used to picture and believe me, after a winter in Eastern Iowa, I’d be elated at the thought of doing so.

But let’s be realistic here. You can only drink so many margaritas before your mouth gets that tacky feeling and your stomach starts telling you NO MORE.

Anyone that is a client of mine will be familiar with the fact that I am not a fan of the word retirement. It has an inherent bookend to your life where you wake up in the morning and think to yourself, “I don’t know what to do today,” which can lead to unhappiness. In fact, according to an International Olympic Committee report, 45% of Olympians experience depression after they retire from their sport.

Although we unathletic folk can’t compare to these superhumans in a physical sense, I see a comparison to the finite thinking of traditional retirement. You’ve spent your entire life improving yourself and your skills for one day that all to come to an end.Buying a car is a financial decision that goes far beyond the initial joy of the new car smell. It’s a choice that can significantly affect your financial well-being in the short and long term. Car selection is more than just personal preference; it’s carefully evaluating your needs and budget.

This shouldn’t be the end goal. Fulfillment, meaningfulness, and freedom are what we’re after, right?

Retirement needs a rebrand.

Instead, we should be striving for financial independence and making work optional. Strive to be at a point where you don’t have to work, but if you want to, go ahead.

The traditional thinking of retirement mostly refers to a certain age, whether that’s 65 so you can claim Medicare, 62 when you’re first able to claim Social Security, or 59 when your pension fully vests and can access your retirement savings. Why would an age matter if you are still fulfilled in the work you do or still want to work doing a more meaningful or enjoyable lower-paying job?

Financial independence should be the end goal. Have the assets available to live the lifestyle you want and go do something you enjoy to fill the time.

Let’s come together, eliminate retirement from our vocabulary, and change it to recreationally employed. (that name is a work in progress)