Why should you never retire?

2024-02-18 08:17:18, Sociale CNA

Why should you never retire?

In an episode of the popular TV series "The Sopranos", which started airing in the 1990s, a gangster tells Mayor Tony that he wants to retire from the game.

"What are you, a hockey player?", Tony shot back angrily. Of course, ordinary people who are not drug criminals and are considering leaving the world of work do not have to worry about broken fingers or other bodily harm.

But they also have to deal with other losses that can be painful: the loss of income, of a purpose in life, or even worse, of significance as a person.

Some people just don't want to give up. Giorgio Armani refuses to give up his role as the head of the fashion house, even at the age of 89. Even though he is the second richest man in Italy, he has the same strong work ethic.

Charlie Munger, assistant to tycoon Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway, worked at the investment powerhouse until he died last year at the age of 99. Mr. Buffett himself is still going strong at the age of 93.

Of course, people like Armani, Buffett or Munger are extraordinary. But they are not unique in wanting to remain professionally active even at an older age. A survey this year found that nearly one in three Americans say they may never retire.

Most of them said they couldn't afford to live financially if they quit a full-time job, especially as inflation increasingly eats away at Social Security benefits.

But guess what, you're one of those lucky people who can choose to quit their job. Should you do this?

Once upon a time, progressing as a professional in the corporate world was more or less predictable. The employee climbed the career ladder, gaining more prestige and higher pay at each step. Then, in the early 60s, the company threw a retirement party on a Friday afternoon, and that's where the career journey ended.

From the next day, the person was completely disconnected from the world of meetings, objectives, tasks and other work. If he still had excess energy, the retiree could use it playing at home with his grandchildren. If there were no grandchildren, there were crosswords, a TV and a blanket.

Although intellectual stimulation helps ward off depression and cognitive impairment, many tech professionals retire as soon as they are advised to, to make room for the younger generation, saying it would be unrealistic to pretend that they could maintain their advantage in this field.

However, running away means leaving the limelight. Free time becomes somewhat meaningless, since you are no longer in the game.

After all, things have changed. Life expectancy is getting longer. It's true that, even though the years after retirement are getting longer and longer, they don't have to be boring or lead to a meaningless life.

If you retire after 32 years as a lawyer at the World Bank, you can start spending your free time taking pictures and collecting rare items. You don't have to feel jobless or suffer from a lack of purpose in life.

For example, if you are no longer a hospital director, you can join Médecins Sans Frontières for occasional work, teaching or helping out at your local clinic. Self-esteem and personal growth can come from many sources, including nonprofit work or teaching others how to start a business.

But can all this replace the frame and noise of being part of the action of the work? You may have an empty agenda, with no deadlines, meetings, and schedules, but you can turn to theaters, art exhibitions, and dance classes.

Such pleasures are all good enough for many people. But for those who are extremely ambitious and dedicated, such things can seem pointless and even a little embarrassing.

This is because being useful is a deeply satisfying feeling. And enthusiasm, even in much lower doses than one feels at the beginning of a career, acts as a kind of anti-aging cure.

Whenever Mr. Armani is told to sit back and enjoy the fruits of his labor, he says "absolutely not." He is deeply involved in the day-to-day running of the business, reviewing every model, document and figure.

In the TV show Seinfeld, also broadcast in the 1990s, Jerry goes to visit his parents, two middle-class Americans who moved to Florida when they retired. He found them eating their dinner in the afternoon.

"I have no intention of barely eating a steak at 4.30 in the afternoon just to save a few bucks!" protested Jerry. The Economist reporter who wrote this article, when she entered the workforce, thought that when the day came to retire, she too would be a typical retiree, wearing a comfortable light pink shirt, eating dinner 4 hours ahead of time.

A quarter of a century later, the 48-year-old journalist hopes to write for The Economist for decades to come, even if she has to go through interviews with a cane.

After all, Seinfeld is still going strong at 69. But ask him again after 21 years./ Monitor.al

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