In a world where the traditional idea of retirement has long been the end goal, it's time to challenge this outdated concept and embrace a new way of thinking.
As the psychologist Carl Jung once wisely noted, "The shoe that fits one person pinches another. There's no recipe for living that suits all cases." This sentiment applies to the archaic concept of retirement as we know it. The notion that one day, after reaching a certain age and accumulating a specific amount of wealth, we can finally start enjoying our lives is outdated and, frankly, unrealistic.
The time has come to let go of the old script and write a new one that revolves around your unique individuality and lifestyle.
Rethinking Retirement - A Paradigm Shift
To truly grasp the need for a transformation in our approach to retirement, let's first paint a picture of the conventional life journey. Traditionally, life has been seen as a sequence of three distinct phases: childhood to young adulthood marked by education, followed by adulthood and career-building, and finally, the third phase where retirement signifies the end of work and the beginning of leisure and relaxation.
However, this age-old model no longer aligns with our modern realities. The concept of retirement, as we know it today, was established in an era when people could expect merely five to ten additional years of life after retiring. Fast forward to today, and it's evident that individuals can potentially enjoy two, three, or even four additional decades of active, healthy living.
This epiphany prompts us to question whether education, work, and leisure should be neatly compartmentalized into these three distinct phases. What if, instead, we integrated work and leisure into ALL stages and seasons of our lives? In this context, the traditional retirement concept appears antiquated and out of touch with our current and future realities.
It's not just us (Lori and Nola) advocating for this paradigm shift; studies confirm that the majority of people now view retirement as a new chapter of life, rather than the end. Moreover, a collaborative study revealed that nearly 60% of those surveyed believed the ideal mix of work and leisure in retirement includes some form of work.
In essence, a paradigm shift is underway. Retirement is no longer about a one-time event where you cease work entirely; it's about planning for a future where you can retire from one career or phase to embrace another throughout your life. It's time to retire retirement and embrace a more fluid and holistic approach to our life journey.
F.I.R.E. - The Flawed Promise of Early Retirement
In recent years, a retirement trend has grown in popularity - F.I.R.E., which stands for Financial Independence, Retire Early. On the surface, it seems to be an appealing solution, especially for millennials, who seek to escape the traditional notion of waiting until their 60s or 70s to enjoy life. However, when we examine it closely, we find that FIRE may not be the magic bullet it's often touted to be.
The basic premise of FIRE is straightforward: save aggressively, invest aggressively, and live super frugally to achieve financial freedom quickly, allowing for early retirement. It sounds enticing, right? While the principles of saving, investing wisely, and living frugally are sound, the extreme approach advocated by FIRE can lead to unintended consequences.
One major flaw lies in the deferred gratification philosophy that both traditional retirement and FIRE share. Whether you retire at 65 or 35, you're still postponing the joys of life to some future date. Studies have shown that those who follow the FIRE path often face burnout, mental health concerns, and even physical and emotional challenges due to their relentless pursuit of financial independence.
Moreover, societal and technological shifts are reshaping the job market, making it increasingly uncertain. Age discrimination is a real issue, and jobs are evolving at a rapid pace. This prompts us to question whether the conventional retirement, including early retirement, is even attainable or desirable.
So, what's the solution? Instead of locking ourselves into rigid retirement timelines, we must embrace a more flexible and holistic approach to life planning. This involves diversifying income streams, investing in lifelong learning, and focusing on experiences and personal growth rather than just financial milestones.
In the face of evolving work dynamics and extended lifespans, it's crucial to reimagine the entire concept of retirement. The path to fulfillment doesn't have to involve postponing happiness; it should be about enjoying the journey every step of the way.
The paradigm of retirement, whether traditional or early, needs a shift to better align with the dynamic nature of our lives.
Embracing Life as a Journey, Not an End Date
In the ever-changing landscape of life, it's essential to recognize there are limits to what we can plan for. Traditional practices are evolving, driven by technological advancements that offer new opportunities and choices. We can either resist change and cling to the illusion of total control over our futures, or we can choose a different path – one that involves being open to the unexpected, paying attention to the signs, and trusting our intuition.
Life should be embraced as a journey, not as an endpoint. While we may have plans for our retirement, it's crucial to remain adaptable and open to what life presents to us.
Consider the story of a colleague who diligently saved for retirement, dreaming of a luxurious world tour cruise in the future. However, life had other plans. His wife battled cancer, and he faced a heart attack and triple bypass surgery. In the face of uncertainty, they chose not to defer their dreams to an uncertain "end date." Instead, they decided to live that dream now, traveling and exploring the world, recognizing that life is not guaranteed.
Another colleague's story reinforces this philosophy. She combined her traditional private therapy practice with a creative venture, creating a multidisciplinary wellness center. Her husband, too, ventured into app development for nonprofits, ultimately transitioning into full-time entrepreneurship. They structured their lives to include downtime, continuous learning, and creative pursuits, emphasizing that work and leisure should blend harmoniously throughout life.
Life's journey is full of surprises, and the key to fulfillment is remaining open to these unexpected twists and turns. Retirement, in its traditional sense, should not be the goal; instead, it should be about crafting a life that allows you to continuously explore, learn, create, and savor every moment along the way.
The Strategic Life Action Plan (S.L.A.P) - Designing Your Journey
In our quest to revolutionize the way we approach retirement and life, we (Nola and Lori) crafted an acronym we affectionately refer to as S.L.A.P – the Strategic Life Action Plan. This acronym underscores the need for a wake-up call, challenging us to reconsider the conventional way of planning our careers and our lives. It's about embracing a paradigm shift.
So, how can you get started with your S.L.A.P? Download your SLAP worksheet from the Sticky Brand Lab website, here. Begin by examining your current season or stage of life. Whether you're in your mid-forties, early fifties, or at any other point on your life's timeline, take a moment to envision what life might look like ten years from now. What changes do you foresee?
For instance, consider your relationships. Will your children have left the nest? Are you single or in a committed partnership? Could aging parents become part of your caregiving responsibilities? By thoughtfully reflecting on these aspects, you can anticipate future needs and desires.
Next, delve into your career. Do you envision continuing in your current job? Or could this be the moment to explore a new business venture? Perhaps you're nurturing a hobby that could evolve into a thriving income stream. The key is to identify what skills you need to shape your career's trajectory.
Finances are a crucial element. Analyze your current financial situation and envision where you want to be in a decade. Consider the balance between active and passive income. Can you develop passive income streams to secure your financial future?
Your health and wellness should also feature prominently. Set health goals and devise a plan to achieve them over the next ten years.
Finally, and most importantly, revisit your bucket list. Don't wait until an arbitrary retirement date to pursue your dreams. Incorporate these aspirations into your journey now. Think creatively; perhaps you can weave some experiences into your current life phase.
Life evolves, and you must evolve with it. Your S.L.A.P is not a rigid blueprint but a dynamic roadmap. Start with your ten-year vision, then reverse-engineer it to identify the small steps that will propel you toward your overarching goals. Remember, “Small steps lead to big effects.” By making incremental changes and reevaluating your plan annually, you can design a life that thrives in a rapidly changing world.
Nola and I are embracing this approach in our own lives. We've integrated our podcast and vertical business model alongside our full-time careers, recognizing the signs of change and evolving with them. Our philosophy? Seize the moment, design your journey, and ensure you extract the fullest richness life has to offer. We talk more about this in Episode #143
Embrace Life as a Journey, Not a Destination
Retirement isn't a destination; it's a journey. Life is meant to be experienced, with all its ups and downs, ebbs and flows, and changing seasons and stages. It's time to rethink the way we approach life and retirement.
Be an early adopter of this new mindset. Recognize that the world is changing, and life as we know it is evolving. Even if you're not an early adopter, be aware that change is on the horizon. Begin exploring new ways of thinking and planning for your future, one that prioritizes your needs and desires. Consider a different lifestyle. Perhaps it's time to start your side business and embark on the journey of entrepreneurship in the second half of your vibrant life.
Remember, you have a lot of life left to live, so seize the moment, design your path, and savor every step of the journey!