The following is for our younger readers. And by younger I mean 15 to 30 years old. It is a piece of unsolicited advice. For once I know Glynsky and I agree on the matter. The matter being “retirement”.
Glynsky and I are extremely lucky. We can say: All of our life is hobbies. And we will never have to – or want to – retire.
Our main sources of income are from a hobby. There are ups and downs, naturally. And we both enjoy what we do, including those ups and downs. Granted, the ups are more fun.
We are self-employed. Thus, we do not have a boss. Instead we have clients. That is one of the most important issues. Neither to have a boss, nor idiotic colleagues or associates. We work with and for people we like. Nasty people never make it onto the client list.
Besides the hobby, that ended up being the main source of income, we both enjoy lots of other hobbies. Like the main hobby, those other hobbies give us pleasure and are sources of joy. Sometimes we have success, and sometimes we fail. Some of the hobbies occasionally turn out revenue or a profit or benefits other than money. Some don’t. All hobbies are bringing us in touch with nice people. And sometimes those nice people turn out to become clients. Others become suppliers or service providers to our main hobby, or recommend us to other potential clients. All this happens naturally. Because, you guessed it, nice people.
You might have noticed, neither of us draws a line between. what most people call, business life and private life. For us it is two sides of the same coin. By the way, it was like that for most people until the industrial revolution.
Now let’s take a look, what other people, aka the majority, do.
Most people start out to ‘get a job’. And then they work as hard and long as they can to keep it. They might switch employers occasionally, get promoted occasionally, but it remains ‘the one job’.
And there they see the same faces every day. The same boss, the same colleagues, the same person to share an office with, sitting across from their desk. Just that thought alone, looking at the same person 8 hours per day, 5 days a week, 20 days every months, 220 days per year, for up to 20 – 30 years? Imagine s/he is ugly, with a bad smell, a nasty personality, and goes on your nerves every minute? I would become suicidal, or a murderer.
Now let’s assume you, the job owner, are successful. Everything goes as planned. The job secured, thanks to 30+ years of fights in the trenches. All real and potential competitors for your one job fought off successfully. Because that’s what you’ll end up doing. Company politics has taken up +70% of your time. But the income was good. You are safe and secure. You turn 60 or 65. And then you retire.
What do you do all day? What is the purpose of your life? What will give you joy, success, reason of being, sense?
From one day to another you are a pariah. Your phone does not ring anymore. Nobody asks for your advice anymore. Nobody needs you anymore. There is no mail to be answered. Neither crisis meetings to attend, nor parties celebrating success. A whole lot of nothing.
No, your kids do not want to see you every month. Much less every week. How often did you go and see your parents at their age?
The worst, almost all retirees apply their business attitude to private life.
The craftsman refurbishing the house permanently. “Sorry, darling, you cannot have your friends over, I need to redo the kitchen/living room/entrance/hall way/…. Don’t throw out the broken lamp, I will fix that some day. Yes, I’ll fix the dishwasher, once I got the hot water system optimized and going again. Yes, the hoover is still on my list, maybe after the lamp.”
The former purchase manager taking over the grocery shopping. “Look, I got a bargain on mustard. I bought 400 glasses and saved us 9 cents per glass. It was a tough negotiation, I tell you. Now let me negotiate the price of that sweater for you, I have done that for decades. See, the acrylic one was a much better bargain than that silk one you picked. Different material, shape, and color, but it’ll keep you just as warm.”
The finance manager taking charge of the household budget. “No wonder our food purchases are above budget, don’t throw the left overs away. We can eat those the next couple of days. Do you really have to go to the hairdresser every week? Then why do we need so many bottles of shampoo and conditioner? Surely, we can cut one or the other? Do we need to heat all the rooms all the time? I calculated, if we turn down the heat by 3° overall, and do not heat the bedroom and bathroom, we could potentially save $20 this heating period.”
And then there are former C-level managers. With no more company to run, and no more secretaries and assistants, they try to run everything else. “The drive way could look better. Make the changes. I think the roof and gutters require maintenance. Do the necessary. I am not quite happy with the garden. Have that fixed by the end of the quarter.”
Hello nightmare. The wife and everybody else is ready to kill or leave you. Or – if you are lucky – just ignore you.
Those anecdotes above are not made up entirely. I have seen retirees turn life – their own and others – into nightmares within less than a year. Then friends and family members ran away. Many retirees get depressed. Feeling unwanted, unappreciated, useless. It’s as bad as it sounds.
And no, contrary to popular believe, you cannot ‘prepare for retirement’. That is an illusion. If you spent 30-40 years fighting for and keeping that one job, with what would you replace that? And how do you drop the habits of decades from one day to the other?
Dear young Reader, if you can, never have that one job. Never retire.
Instead have hobbies and have clients.
And stay a sane, healthy, and fun person all your life.
Keeping my fingers crossed for you,