Maybe Don't Call It Retirement
Mike and I have been struggling with this idea of 'retirement' so we decided to stop using the word. We think it's outdated - or at least the thoughts that word evokes don't make sense anymore. To us, retiring is synonymous with not working and that is not how we want to think about the next 30 years. We want to be more careful and more specific about how we talk about our ideas and decisions. Here is how we have decided to frame it:
- We want to spend our time and energy on things that we enjoy and want to be doing
- For the foreseeable future, that will include generating revenue from those activities because it is an economic necessity
- If either one of us is no longer spending time on what we want to, we will look at our options together as a team - that may mean one of us changes our work, which changes our current economic situation, but we will make that decision together based on this value of spending time and energy on things that matter, that we want to be doing
- At some point, generating revenue will not be a driving factor in our decisions about what we spend our time doing, but that does not necessarily mean one of us won't choose to spend time on something that generates an income - it just won't be a driving factor in deciding to do it
- We value economic stability and will always make sure we don't put our long term security at risk for short term gains
I have worked to make sure I could take care of my family and to make sure that when I got older and my earning power decreased, I would not need to rely on other people to ensure my basic needs were met. And while that way of thinking has resulted in financial security, I would say that it very much clouded my vision when it came to doing work I did not enjoy. I spent a lot of years being very unhappy in financial services and it took me too long to shift industries. Too long. I think that if I'd had a clearer sense of creating balance between earning and doing things that I enjoyed and had meaning for me, I might have made that change sooner.
Or maybe not - it's easy to say that I should have been more mindful about making sure the work I did was something I enjoyed, but I remember an incredible amount of anxiety not knowing if I would be able to save up enough money to put the kids through college. And now with only one year left of tuition, maybe it's easy to start thinking this way.
And it's a privileged way of thinking. I have an education and good work experience, so if I want to do something different, that is a possibility for me. Or at least I think it is. I know that age discrimination is a real thing, and there is a scenario where I may not be hirable for a job I want because I'm perceived as being too old. That's hard for me to imagine really but I also know that I need to consider it. And again I'm lucky because I have a job I like, for a company I respect - I don't have an urgent need to change how I spend my time, forcing me to potentially address the reality that while I may find something enjoyable, I won't be paid to do it.
So what this really means is that the next 30 years isn't a linear projection. We don't 'retire', stop working, spend all our savings and then die. It means we will be more creative in how we think about spending our time, about whether generating income from that is or is not important and making decisions together that involve a lot of give and take so that we both are creating a life as individuals and together that has the most meaning and enjoyment. It also means that Mike will always go to soccer matches, whether he gets paid to or not!