Redefining Retirement

Defining work as a meaningful purpose, not as a means of income alone.

We will always have a contribution to this life, this world, society, one another until the day we die. The U-Bend encourages us the best years are ahead after age 50 in terms of life satisfaction & overall well-being.

There is a movement to retire early called FIRE:

Basically the goal is to retire by age 50. I love the concept of planning, saving and living below our means. This is wise. My question is, what will those who retire at 50 do with their remaining years? People are living longer and studies on Happiness point towards community, quality of relationships, closeness and knowing we are cared for; all contributing to wellness, less mental deterioration, and longevity:

Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives, the study revealed. Those ties protect people from life’s discontents, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes.

In my interactions with those age 70 and above, the most fulfilled have made it a point to do two things: live close to family, especially grandchildren, and continue contributing with their gifts to society. Financial soundness is evident in their lives. When we give back, and see what we do as meaningful, this redefines work.

When we frame our lives in terms of work-life integration, we can pursue dreams in the mix of life, whatever stage we find ourselves in. Studies on happiness tell us to do more of what we enjoy. Happiness matters, as it is the key to longevity, health and purpose. Today, let’s pursue our dreams now, as we make wise financial decisions. If we work hard, as an end goal to retire early, sacrificing the good life, our health may suffer. My question is, “what if you die in search of this early retirement?” Can you truly say you were living a fulfilled, life of meaning with wellness? If the answer is yes, fantastic!

We all prioritize how we spend money & budget. As an avid traveler with a job, home, car etc., I have met people who have none of these things. They work, save and travel. Some find jobs along the way, others settle for six months at a time in a transient job, and then travel until they need to work again. What we have in common, even though our paths are different: we follow our passion to travel. Regardless of income throughout my life, I have found a way to travel. Now that I have better financial security, I have kept some of my frugal habits because I love the simplicity. My budget has given priority to a section solely to travel.

There are many who are waiting to travel, or fulfill other dreams until they retire. Let’s redefine what retirement means by rethinking what work life integration looks like, with a focus on our well-being. Live life now! See life as a connection to others. What we say and do matters. Make our work life the following of our passions. Something is in our heart to be, do, become. Follow this, and our pathway will be one of meaning, purpose, longevity and well-being.

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