How To Avoid A “Mid” Retirement

Growing old and vanishing is an unrelenting nightmare for many people.

Multitudes of workers stay on jobs they despise for this very reason.

The fear of irrelevancy often trumps the uncertainty accompanying freedom from the workplace.

Jenny Joseph wrote a viral poem as a rebuttal to the sexism prevalent in our society.

It centered on late-life defiance. Joseph’s prose became a rallying cry for those heroically opposed to society’s vicious stereotypes towards those considered past their prime.

Dylan Thomas joined the chorus of rebellion.

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

The words of rebel poets are a terrific foundation for anyone crafting a retirement plan. Like anything else, a checklist of what to expect and avoid is imperative in making any life-altering decision.

How to avoid irrelevancy should be at the top of the list of retirement goals.

Here are some hard questions you need to ask yourself before calling it quits.

Are you ready to say I’m retired when somebody asks what you do? 

Are your hobbies purposeful or just a way to fill a void in your day?

Can you function without the predictable structure of work rhythm?

Do you have sufficient friends outside of the workplace?

Are you ready to have people cut you off because you no longer occupy a position of power?

Jonathan Clements wrote an excellent post on this very subject, What We Lose.

In it, he mentions a story his father was fond of telling.

I’m reminded of a story my father used to tell. His first job out of university was working for The Financial Times in London. But he left to become city editor of the Glasgow Herald, a far less prestigious publication, at least for the denizens of the City of London. Among my father’s contacts in the financial world, he quickly learned who his true friends were—because they were the only ones who still returned his calls.

If your ego is not ready for a dressing down, maybe you should reconsider stepping 100% away from the workplace. All or nothing isn’t the only option in many companies. A gradual decrease in your responsibilities might be a better track than ripping off the bandaid.

To help ready yourself for the challenges ahead, here’s an excerpt from Jenny Joseph’s poem:

When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

Spitting isn’t necessary, but waiting to die shouldn’t be the center of your retirement plan.

Life doesn’t need to end when you stop working.

It will if you don’t become a rebel.