There are plenty of articles in the media forecasting that many Americans will never have the money to retire. In that scenario work is a ball and chain, a means to an end, just a way to pay the bills.
Other people have played the retirement savings game well, can afford to retire, and never want to give up work. (The good kind of work.) I thought about this when I read two articles recently—each illustrating that work is so much more than a way to earn money. That’s how I view it—and I know I’ll be very happily working so long after age 65.
The first article was a New York Times Magazine cover story on Jerry Seinfield. The title is “Jerry Seinfeld Plans to Die Standing Up”, and the article talks about his many millions and his unwavering interest in stand-up comedy. By all estimations, he can afford not to utter the word work ever again—but he’s driven to keep refining and refining his craft.
Then another article caught my eye—one about a more regular guy who has not made millions in show business. This story focused on a former magazine publisher, age 88, who has found interesting ways to work—for money or sheer fulfillment—well into typical retirement years. The most amazing part is that he has not let Parkinson’s slow him down—by building strength through various sports and starting a foundation for others coping with the same disease.
As I read these two articles I realized that when it comes to retirement, the concept of “work” gets a bad rap. Some wonder, “Why, when the ball and chain is finally off would you still want to work?” Well, work that you despise is a hard slog. Work that you do just to get a paycheck breeds resentment. But the work that you choose to do in retirement—any work that you love—can keep inspiration, intrigue, challenge, learning and exploration alive and kicking whether you need the income or not.
Because when you find work you love, it’s more like play. –KAS
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