If you’ve ever spent much time around farmers and ranchers as I have one thing you’ll notice is that age never seems to slow them down. I’ve seen eighty-year-old men toss a bale of hay into the back of a pickup truck as easily as an eighteen-year-old; the difference being that the older man uses finesse while the younger one uses brute strength. Farmers and ranchers don’t talk much about retirement either. Most are too busy to think about it. They’ve got work to do.
An article I read this past week strongly encouraged people to keep working for several reasons. First of all in today’s world there are few physical reasons for one to retire, work in fact supports good health, and work boosts happiness and well-being, among other things. I agree. I’ve got lots of friends sixty and older. Although some may have retired from a one career, myself included, many of us simply started another one. Others are still doing what they’ve always done and have no plans of stopping. And all of us without exception volunteer a great deal of our time and expertise to charitable causes. The point is, not a single one of us has dropped out. Most are as busy and working as hard as they ever have – harder in some cases, and certainly more effectively. It makes me wonder, whoever thought up the idea of retirement in the first place?
When you consider the enormous population of “baby boomers” (est. 76 million) plus those born before the boomer generation we have the greatest resource of experience, education, and wisdom ever in the world’s history, much of it untapped. How can we make better use of this great resource? One place to start might be to change our vocabulary, to quit using the “R” word so much. How about changing AARP to something like AAEC, Association of Active Elder Citizens instead of using the word “retired”? Wouldn’t that be more appropriate, more energizing, and more encouraging to keep older citizens engaged in the marketplace? And think about the pressure it would take off Social Security and pension systems by keeping people involved as contributors and not just withdrawers?
Wouldn’t everyone be better off if we all kept working? I plan to and so do my friends. Most of us are too busy to think about retirement. We’ve got too much work to do.