I read a wonderful story last week about the longest serving Nurse in Michigan, Dorthe Canty, who is retiring at the ripe old age of 89! Having worked in a Health System I can tell you this is no small feat, for one simple reason it’s tough being on your feet for 50+ years taking care of patients. Can you imagine what pushes someone to work in such a demanding field until the age of 89? Here’s what Dorthe had to say:
“What am I going to do instead – sit at home?”
I love that!
Why is it we push so hard for everyone to retire at 65? That’s what we do as HR Pros. As soon as someone starts having those birthdays pop up around 62, 63, 64 we start hinting around those questions – “So, Charlie when are you going to retire?” , “What’s your plan for retirement Sue?”, etc. It’s really one of those American cultural norms that our government started when they decided Social Security should start at 65 – that was our little reminder that at age 65 you become to broken down to work any longer! Thank you – but like so much of what our government set up in 1930’s and 1940’s in really no longer relevant.
We now raise our kids to believe that retirement, basically to stop working and start having fun, should be there goal. I think we should change it. I don’t think I’ll ever stop working. I have 3 boys to put through college, then I have weddings, then I hope to have untold numbers of grandchildren that need to learn how to hit a curve ball and master the crossover dribble, then I have another round of college, and, well you know life just keeps coming at you. The goal shouldn’t be to stop working, the goal, the expectation should be to enjoy your life while you are living it.
I don’t need retirement at 65 for one simple reason – I enjoy what I’m doing – and oh by the way – I get paid to do it! If or when that stops, I’ll find something else I enjoy and usually if I enjoy something I find a way to make money at it, because I like money – it allows me to give things to my family, which I enjoy most of all. You see work doesn’t define me at 41ish – the combination of my family, my friends, my work, my life defines me – so retirement doesn’t sound like a goal I want, it sounds quite frankly like an end. I think it was that way for Dorthe as well. She didn’t want to just sit home on the sidelines, she wanted to be in the game, she wanted to participate in life. So do I.