Wednesday, August 9, 2023

I can't say for sure I really want to retire

Current life expectancy figures suggest that, as a 53-year-old American male, I can reasonably expect to live another 25 years. Could be more, could be less.

However you look at it, odds are I'll be around for a while longer. The hope has always been to lead a life of relative leisure for a portion of those years by eventually retiring from the full-time workforce.

Financial considerations aside, though, I sometimes wonder if I even want to retire. That may sound crazy, but you hear stories all the time of people (mostly men, it seems) who retire and decline rapidly thereafter. They lose the mental and social engagement that comes from being employed, and their mind and body go swiftly downhill thereafter.

That's obviously not the case for everyone, or even for most retirees. But it happens often enough that it makes me wonder whether they'll need to pull me kicking and screaming from full-time work sometime well into my 80s.

The best approach, they say, is to plan a retirement in which you direct your time and energy toward more fulfilling pursuits. The idea is to keep using your brain every day, but to use it for something perhaps even more enjoyable and more personally satisfying than whatever you did to earn a living for 40+ years.

In theory it sounds good, but for the life of me I cannot picture what that might look like. What would I do every day? Even now I'll occasionally take week-long staycations by the end of which, my wife will tell you, I'm scrambling for something to do.

And I say that as someone who dabbles in lots of different things. I have plenty of interests, but you know what they say about the days being long and the years being short? It's difficult to envision how I would fill those long days in retirement.

Maybe I'll think differently about all of this when I get into my late 60s and our retirement accounts are at a point where I can seriously consider moving into the next phase of life.

In the meantime, for as much as I might complain about it, I'm OK continuing to work a full-time job. I can only read so many books and practice my saxophone for so long every day anyway.

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