We’ve all heard stories of guys who, after busting their hump for 40 years, kick the bucket at their retirement party or shortly after that. These stories scare the crap out of me and make me wonder about the idea of retirement, or on the flip side, working so hard to accomplish retirement. After all, what happens when we retire? For many, a whole lot of nothing. Maybe some games of bridge, golf, and laying on the beach, but doesn’t that get boring? Yes, and in fact, it might even bore you to death!
Don’t believe me? Consider this:
In a study done by Shell Corporation, a shocking discovery was made about the age of retirement when correlated with the age of death. According to the article:
People who retire at 55 are 89% more likely to die in the 10 years after retirement than those who retire at 65.
Doesn’t that seem a bit backward? So they found that the workers living to the age of 65 were 89% more likely to live 10 more years after retirement even though they were 10 years older than their early retirement counterparts. I find that to be utterly shocking, and I hope you would as well.
So what does this mean?
The only difference between the two groups was retirement from work. From this, we could infer that work could be the reason we continue to live as long as we do because it gives us purpose. Many people who leave work aren’t sure what to do with their days. I can relate as one of the worst months of my life was when I was unemployed, not because I didn’t know where money was coming from, but because I didn’t have anything to work towards. Even if you’re financially free at retirement, it doesn’t mean you’ll be living a fulfilling life.
Is work your purpose?
Without a purpose, people tend to live shorter lives. This is simply because without purpose, they will not have the motivation to live. It sounds a bit morbid, but it’s true. When Dan Buettner discussed his research on centurions (those living to over the age of 100) as a TED presentation, he found that they were all able to tell him exactly what their purpose was. Ironic? I doubt it.
Is this purpose found through our work, or is it something that can be gained outside of employment? For many, work is their purpose, so through retiring from work, they’re often retiring from their purpose.
From both the Shell survey and the TED video, it would seem that if you want to live a full life, early retirement would not be the best option. However, working towards something related to your purpose your whole life may be your best bet at hitting the 100-year mark.
What do you think? Do you plan on retiring at or before 55?
What are your thoughts about early retirement?
Do you think the survey has any flaws?