Retirement. A word that fills people with both excitement and fear.
On the one hand, we’re excited about the possibilities that retirement brings. The possibility to travel, to try new hobbies, to live our lives the way we want.
On the other hand, we worry about whether we’ll have enough money to survive until that unknown age at which we’ll die. And maybe not just survive but to actually thrive in our later years.
That fear, that endless worry about the future, is what keeps many people stuck in soul-sucking careers. Following the safe path in life, trying to save up money for that day in which they’ll no longer be working. Sacrificing their one precious life in exchange for a sense of security later on.
I understand those fears about the future and retirement. I recently turned forty-nine years old, which means that my retirement is only fifteen years away. Fifteen years may seem like a long time, but I know that those years will pass quickly.
I have some money saved up in retirement accounts and I will also receive a small pension. And hopefully I’ll also receive money from Social Security.
Will that be enough? And how long will that money last? I have no idea.
My retirement years could have been a lot different. Three times in my life I’ve walked away from jobs that paid me lots of money and paid generous retirement benefits. My friends who decided to stay in those jobs will likely have few worries when they retire.
So yes, I gave up a lot of money and a secure retirement. But I also saved my soul in the process. Those jobs I walked away from? They were destroying me.
I hated being stuck in a cubicle. I hated sitting in front of a computer all day long. I hated writing pointless memos. I hated going to meetings to talk about things that I didn’t care about.