Many people dream of retiring early, while others would be happy just to retire on time. Either way, it takes a whole lot of forethought and planning to manage to leave the workforce for good at any point in time -- which is why I largely spend my days writing about the importance of retirement savings.
But considering how much time I have retirement on the brain, it's actually not something I want for myself. Ever.
Why retirement just isn't for me
Many people worry about the idea of moving from a steady paycheck to a fixed income. Others fear they'll never retire because their savings aren't adequate.
That's not the case with me. So far, I'm on track as far as my savings go. I currently set a large chunk of my earnings aside each year in a SEP IRA (an option available to freelancers such as myself), and my husband contributes generously to his 401(k). And while there's no guarantee that we'll manage to continue doing so in the future, we've also done a decent job of keeping our fixed costs, like our mortgage and car payments, to a minimum, thereby freeing up as much room for savings as possible.
So why don't I want to retire? It's simple: I love what I do, and I want to keep doing it for as long as I'm physically able.
The dangers of retirement
To me, there's nothing more daunting than leaving a career behind and struggling to fill my days in a fulfilling manner. It's something so many seniors today struggle with, which explains why retirees are 40% more likely to suffer from clinical depression than those who work.
Now don't get me wrong: I have plenty of interests, many of which don't cost a fortune to pursue. At the same time, I realize that if I retire in the conventional sense, I'll need to reserve a fair amount of money for things like housing, food, transportation, and healthcare. As such, I'll be limited in what I can spend on leisure, which means there's a good chance I'll get bored as a senior if I don't work in some capacity. And when you consider that I enjoy what I do so much, there's no reason not to keep doing it.
It's all about perspective
None of this is meant to discourage anyone from retiring. My point, rather, is to introduce a different way of looking at retirement. Rather than regard it as a period during which you can't do anything to earn a living, why not look at it as an opportunity to keep making money, but in a meaningful way? If you've spent your career at a desk job but love the outdoors, see about getting a job at a state park. If you enjoy baking, open a bakery. There are so many options to choose from, and this way, you're giving yourself a meaningful way to spend your time, all the while mitigating some of the financial worries so many seniors face.
In fact, I'll come clean and say that while not wanting to spend my golden years bored out of my mind is my primary driver for not wanting to retire, the idea of continuing to bring home some income also doesn't hurt -- especially since I have no idea what my expenses will look like down the line. Furthermore, once I reach a certain age -- and I'm not sure exactly what it will be -- I expect to scale back and perhaps not work quite as many hours as I do today. But as long as I continue to enjoy what I do, I'll aim to keep doing it for the long haul.
That leads me to one final point: If you can find a career that makes you happy, jump into it -- not just for the present satisfaction it'll bring you, but because it'll quite possibly change your approach to retirement for the better. Not earning an income for what could be a 30-year period or longer is a scary prospect, but if you find a job that brings you true enjoyment, you'll be more motivated to keep at it in some form when you're older, thereby buying yourself the financial security so many seniors crave.