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Should we retire the concept of retirement?


We know a lot of people aren’t saving enough to retire comfortably. Are folks setting themselves up for deep depression when they realize they’ll have to work long past age 65?

Or, think about this: If you're able, why should you stop working at all?

Maybe we should stop encouraging retirement and instead help people find meaningful work for their senior years.

“The words ‘retire’ and ‘retirement’ derive from the French 'retirer,' meaning to withdraw,” writes Prudy Gourguechon, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. “The common definition of retirement today is to leave your job and stop working. Words shape our vision and thinking. As long as we keep using the word retirement or any derivative such as 'the new retirement,' that whiff of withdrawal, of closure, of endings will linger. I want to get rid of the word altogether.”

In an opinion piece for Forbes, Gourguechon makes a pretty good case for rethinking retirement. It shouldn’t be about ending something but the beginning of another phase of your life, she argues.

"I’d like to see everyone who is rounding the corner of age 60 begin to think about the next phase of their productive life,” Gourguechon writes. “By the time they sell, or step aside or 'retire,' they should have a pretty clear vision and plan for fulfilling the psychological necessities that all of us gain from work — a sense of having an impact, making a contribution, being connected, being creative.”

Read: Why The Concept Of Retirement Is Destructive And Needs To Be Replaced

In an article for the Harvard Business Review, Neil Pasricha, New York Times bestselling author of “The Happiness Equation” argues that work is good for us and our finances.

“We’re all living much, much longer,” Pasricha writes. “And many of us would like to retire much earlier. But the scary headlines — and the realities that we see around us — cast doubt on our ability to ever retire. The entire concept of retirement is starting to feel flimsy at best.”

Look at Japan's Okinawans, Pasricha says. They don’t even have a word for retirement.

He writes: “While we think of retirement as the golden age of golf greens and cottage docks, guess what they call retirement in Okinawa? They don’t. They don’t even have a word for it. Literally nothing in their language describes the concept of stopping work completely. Instead, one of the healthiest societies in the world has the word ikigai (pronounced like ‘icky guy’), which roughly translates to ‘the reason you wake up in the morning.’ It’s the thing that drives you most.”

Maybe we just weren’t met to retire from work.

“If you’re already struggling to pay bills and your career’s sitting on tectonic plates that are threatening to shift below the labor market, my recommendation is to dig deep into your natural passions to find a second act that aligns with your values,” Pastricha says. “We know there are far more problems and opportunities on this spinning planet than there are people to help with them, so go solve some! “

Read: Why Retirement Is a Flawed Concept

Let’s talk about this. Because if we accept that retirement isn’t a good thing there’s less pressure to save the millions those crazy retirement calculators say we need to retire fiscally sound.

But, if after reading the articles, you still want to call it quits here’s some reading that may help you save enough money to do so.


Is $1 million enough to retire? Why this benchmark is both real and unrealistic.

An early retirement is doable. Here’s how.

Are you ready for retirement? Here’s how to know.

Your Thoughts

Should we retire the idea of retirement? Send your comments to Please include your name, city and state. Put “Retirement” in the subject line.

Retirement Rants and Raves

I’m interested in your experiences or concerns about retirement or aging. What do you like about retirement? What came as a surprise?

If you haven’t retired yet, what concerns you financially?

You can rant or rave. This space is yours. It’s a chance for you to express what’s on your mind. Send your comments to Please include your name, city and state. In the subject line put “Retirement Rants and Raves.”

Last week I discussed whether your retirement portfolio would be affected if President Trump is impeached.

Trump said during an interview with Fox News that if he were impeached the stock market would crash. Would it, really?

Trump made the comments after his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former personal attorney Michael Cohen were both found guilty of tax and bank fraud. A jury in Virginia found Manafort guilty on eight counts. Cohen pleaded guilty in New York to five counts of evading federal income taxes.

Paul Manafort. Michael Cohen. How tax fraud took them down.

In an interview with Ainsley Earhardt, co-host of “Fox & Friends,” Trump predicted an impeachment would hurt the economy. “I’ll tell you what, if I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash,” Trump said. “I think everybody would be very poor because without this thinking, you would see numbers that you wouldn’t believe.”

So I asked last week:

Lexie Cassidy of Seattle wrote, “Count me among the people who fear the market will crash if Trump is NOT impeached!”

Dennis E. Quillen of Hattiesburg, Miss., wrote: “Any impeachment efforts will likely affect the market negatively in the short run, but long run prognosis would seem to promote optimism and greater market activity. Trump is too unpredictable and erratic. Congress remains clueless and inept. Impeachment would likely produce long-term improvement in outlook for U.S. economy and financial markets.”

“The market reacts on a daily basis for all kinds of events, sometimes up, sometimes down,” wrote Kerry Kleiber, Lafayette, Ind. “I’m 69, so I’m one of those who it would affect most. However, I don’t worry about it, even with impeachment possible. A few days of losses? Sure, very possible. But, while I don’t care for the person from my own state, Mr. Pence will be president and will carry on the policies of his predecessor, which is what the Market is most concerned about, and will do it without all the childish histrionics we’ve all come to love (not!) and expect.”

Russ White from Virginia wrote: “I have saved for retirement. I'm in the top 10 percent statistically. Combination of pension and 401 (k). If impeachment tanks the market, and I don't think it will, so be it. It is not about me, it is about what is best for the country.”

Dennis Ruane of Fort Washington, Md., wrote, Not only am I unafraid, I think the likely mid to long term impact would be neutral to positive. The fundamental reason is the potential change from our current uncertain, volatile environment to what could be a more stable, predictable environment. It’s hard to make long range plans when the rules of the game are subject to rapid change. For example, the current drama surrounding implementation of tariffs has ripple effects on investors, customers, and companies in more than just those products for which tariffs have been announced. No one knows what could be next. Who wants to make capital investments if they cannot predict potential return on investment? If the president were to leave office early (whether through impeachment and conviction or resignation), I would hope his successor would return us to a more collaborative, stable environment."

Carol Bruno of Gaithersburg, Md., answered a number of questions I’ve asked readers about retirement. Here's what she says.

What do you like about retirement?

“My job at a Fortune 500 company ended four years ago at age 58. Luckily I had 10 years of service, and left as a qualified retiree (received a final company match on my 401(k), but nothing else). In the intervening time I have held two long-term part-time temp jobs, but my main source of income is from my IRA. I enjoy having the freedom to be on my own clock, to take day trips or go to the pool, to volunteer for daytime events at church, and schedule doctors' appointments without juggling my routine.”

What came as a surprise?

“Because I qualified for unemployment benefits, I spent the first year actively applying for full-time jobs. I was totally surprised that I rarely got interviewed or called back, let alone offered a position. I am resigned to the fact I won't be working full time again in a similar job due to age and experience.”

If you haven’t retired yet (claiming social security), what concerns you financially?

“Since I participate in ACA Healthcare, I need to keep my annual taxable income (wages plus withdrawals) below the Obamacare annual maximum in order to keep receiving the monthly premium subsidies and making the coverage affordable. I just turned 63. If anything, I wonder, as a single woman, whether I will need long term healthcare down the line, and if I will be able to afford it!”

Read: Long-Term Care Insurance For Singles: Do You Really Need It?

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