Best time to retire? Never

A long time ago, my grandfather hit 65 and was told it was time to retire, so he did and as a result his health started to decline. Only after his sisters persuaded him to begin working again did he regain his health. This was incredible as he was stronger in his 80’s than most men in their 20’s. But with retirement, he lost purpose. He worked for himself most of his life as a small farmer and a blacksmith, but at some point he went to work for one of the local factories. When he came out of retirement it was with a focus on his blacksmith work and he was good!

“I interviewed a number of people between the ages of 70 and 100 in order to better understand what contributes to life satisfaction. Every single one of them has continued working,” he insists.

Daniel Levitin

This article on by Jessica Stillman entitled The Best Time to Retire Is Never, According to a Stanford Psychologist and a Neuroscientist that I came across on LinkedIn does a good job of explaining why the traditional concept of retirement is not really best for us. We all need purpose and work is a good thing. My own father retired from a company, but promptly went to work doing other things. One thing he enjoyed as a hobby that became a small business was repairing small engines for people like me that were not skilled in doing so and he derived a great deal of fulfillment in doing this, plus a decent income. He said that all retirement meant to him was the ability to choose the work he was going to do.

Another person that I know said that he did not retire, he simply redirected. Now he works harder than ever, but with great joy as he has a great purpose.

“Corporate culture in the U.S. has tended toward ageism,” he says with understatement. “Employers should recognize that offering oppor­tunities to older workers is smart business, and not just a feel-good, charitable act. Multigenerational teams with older members tend to be more produc­tive; older adults boost the productivity of those around them, and such teams outperform single-generational ones.”  

Daniel Levitin

So, don’t think about retiring, but about “redirecting”! And, if you are a leader in an organization, begin working on how you can maximize your older workers.