Thursday, November 15, 2012

Making Plans

Sometimes I see ads for financial planning services in which older adults talk about how they can't retire of of [fill in the blank].

I realize I do not want that to be me.

I like teaching, and I hope I can do it for the next 30 years, but if not, I hope I can find another career that I enjoy that I can continue doing; but I hope Ed and I will be able to retire, or continue working because we want to, not because we have to, and not because we didn't continue developing a life together. I also hope we can continue to develop interests outside of work so that we won't be of the mindset that if we don't work, we won't have anything to do. I've seen some some of my parents' contemporaries not retire because they didn't take the time to develop outside interests.

A former boyfriend's father (who has since died) was a mason who had continued to work into his 70s; his wife, a career hairdresser, was not earning enough to support herself with her salary. Even after he was diagnosed with ALS, he continued to work because he loved to work, but around the time of his diagnosis I remember his saying that he had made no long-term financial plans for retirement because he had never planned to retire; he thought he would just keep working. I was struck by the realization that even if one doesn't want to retire, one should make plans in case one needs to retire.

That's the only extreme case I know about, but I know of two other men who continued to work because they had never taken the time to develop other interests; they only wanted to work. They would work hard, and long hours, and when they came home they would do more work. I've known programmers who come home to work on their own projects, but I wonder what stops someone from seeing that one's life cannot only consist of work; there's a need to develop a life that includes other people in it, too.

It can be hard to develop new interests, but I'd think that once one has retired, you'd have a chance to do things you might not have been able to do otherwise. (Travel that doesn't have to take place during the summer comes to mind.) Travel isn't for everyone, but there must be something else out there you'd like to spend time on because you couldn't when you were working 80-hour (or even 40-hour) weeks.

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