The idyllic image is great for superannuation advertising campaigns, but does it reflect the reality of hard-working folk abandoning financial security, social connection and a sense of purpose in the hope of bliss from eternal leisure?
In 1908, the age pension was introduced as a reward for people who somehow achieved the ripe old age of 65, bearing in mind that average life expectancy at that time was only 60.
In 1970, average life expectancy crept up to 70, the age pension still kicked in at 65 and the temptation was to party hard for five years and go out with a bang.
That’s not so easy to do in 2023, with life expectancy out to 84 and the pension qualification at 67.
It’s wonderful to be confident that good health will prevail for so long, but how to juggle finances and activities to average the degree of bliss over 17 years? Why not 30 years or more?
Incidentally, there are currently only 3.5 workers able to support each age pensioner, casting doubt over age pension sustainability.
The reality of living the dream is that the dream has to be realistic.
Unless you are a mathematical guru, I suggest that the first thing to do is ignore the figures and statistics. They are just numbers and since every human being is unique, the chance of demographic data being helpful or even relevant to an individual is .01 per cent. Just kidding, that’s a made-up number so please disregard.
Remember, this is your dream. The who, how, why, what, where and when are yours to visualise and turn into reality, with goals.
A goal is a dream with a deadline, according to Think and Grow Rich author Napoleon Hill, so write them down, work them through and delight in the results.
Have you noticed the absence of the “R” word since the first line? That’s because it is an obsolete convention and the Baby Boomer in me rebels against that stuff.
Also, I argue that the term is contextually incorrect. By definition, retirement refers only to the act of resigning from work or business. It’s what happens next that’s important.
Stop me right here! Have I not just conceded that there is a time when we must succumb to convention and sacrifice all the benefits of an active working life? Absolutely not. It’s your choice to make whatever arrangements fit your goals.
So, what’s the plan? Pick out a time somewhere in the future and visualise everything you want to be, do and have at that time. Then work out what you need to do to get there. Commit to that and guess what? The time in between becomes your life. That’s how goals work and that’s how dreams come true.
It’s ironic that when we were young and green we were trusted with massive life-changing decisions like starting a family; in our middle age we were expected to manage critical family, business and career decisions; and now when we finally have bountiful experience and wisdom we’re told when to stop work and how to live out what’s left of our burnt-out lives.
If we’re expected to burn out, let’s go Supernova. Maybe it’s a Baby Boomer thing (intentional pun) but let’s keep them on their toes wondering what amazing things we will do next.
If you thought the ‘70s were cool, watch them check out your 70s.
Charlie Griffiths is the founder of Runaway Retiree Retirement Coaching and author of Runaway Retiree. Visit runawayretiree.com