Life is pretty much set out for us from the moment we are born. A regimented schedule that we must adhere to if we are to be successful in this world. You must go to school, you must gain some qualifications, you must attend college/university, you must get a proper career, you must get a mortgage, you must get married and have kids and then government will let you collect your pension at some arbitrary age when you’re deemed to be ready for the scrapheap.
Miss out any of those steps and a certain section of society will always look down upon you. “Why aren’t you married yet?”, “Why are you renting? It’s throwing money away?”, “Why don’t you have a proper job?”
Yet perhaps the strangest thing that we do as a society is the idea that we have to work ridiculous hours and earn enough money so we can eventually retire and put our feet up. It sounds good in theory but I’m going to share 4 reasons why this is a very bad idea.
1. Retirement is bad for your health
It was often thought that too much hard work would lead you to an early grave, especially when you reach the age when everyone forgets your name and just refers to you a “Gramps”.
That’s why we retire right? To give our weary bodies a rest.
Yet research has shown that people who retire actually have lower life expectancies than those who remain at work. Remaining in some form of employment, or part time work gives your life purpose and a reason to get up in the morning. It keeps you fit and alert and will help ward off those nasty health problems that can creep up on you later in life.
2. Live for your youth, not your old age
Perhaps the strangest part of aiming for retirement is that we have it all backwards. You’re told to spend the healthiest and best years of your life stuck in a 9-5 job with huge amounts of stress and mounting debt.
It’s okay though, in 40 years you can give it all up. Not long to wait.
Why don’t we spend our youth doing all the things we want? Go traveling, see the world, go out and have fun, do all the things you have ever wanted to do whilst you still have a body that will allow it.
Do you want to spend your twenties in an office or do you want to have a carefree existence?
Okay you need money to fund all this fun and games but that’s okay, earn the money you need but don’t tie yourself up in a boring career and a mortgage you don’t want just because it’s what you’re supposed to do.
3. You may never even get there
The flipside to the above entry is if you’re still in your twenties or thirties there is a small chance that you will never need to retire. Due to the advances in medicine and science, major diseases and illnesses may be eradicated in the near future.
The ability to slow down aging due to the advancement in stem cell technology is becoming science fact, not science fiction. Therefore it is possible that our life expectancy will double/triple or even reach an unfathomable number.
Why live your life with the belief that we only have a finite time on this planet? If you knew you would live to 200 would you still be aiming for retirement at 65? Of course not, it would change how you viewed the world and your perception would be significantly altered.
Paradoxically, having a far higher life expectancy and the possibility of never growing “old” will enhance your ability to live life to the fullest. That boring career seems even worse knowing that you could be doing it for the next 100 years. Get out and embrace the present.
4. Conformity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be
I’ve mentioned the schedule that we’re expected to live by but having some form of structure is good right? I mean, if everyone else is doing what they are supposed to, surely that means it can’t all be bad?
No it’s not bad, it’s just boring.
Conformity is the enemy of the individual.
You must be living the life how you want to live it. We are all different people with different desires and aspirations. Think of how many people are stuck in a rut but secretly wish they could be doing something else.
If you genuinely want a safe career and a mortgage and all that comes with it then that’s fine, but if this goes against your inner beliefs then what the hell are you doing?
It is never too late to change your life and to start doing what you really want. Do you think that by retiring you will suddenly become happier? It’s possible, sure, but what if it doesn’t? What will you do then?
You will have wasted a lifetime in the pursuit of an impossible dream.
Realise that change starts today and by continuing to put it off you may suddenly realise that life has passed you by and suddenly the world doesn’t want or need you anymore.
Life happens in the here and now. The present is all we have.
Focusing on the future could stop you from living the life you truly want and you don’t want to be the person who looks back full of regrets because they backed the wrong horse.
Back yourself and live life on your own terms.