Retirement is a bankrupt Industrial Age idea.
The Industrial Age of 1780-1960-ish was the greatest advance in physical lifestyle benefits in history, and likely the worst thing that ever happened to our real lifestyle.
As a business owner, your view of business has been radically tainted by this very short period of time in history, and the sooner you stop using it as a reference for your business, the better off you and your business will be.
The Industrial Age gave us a lot of bad legacies, and a couple of the worst are:
- Separation of Work and Play
We’ll deal with Work and Play in a later post.
Retirement. What a dumb idea. In 1889, Bismarck invented it to give German laborer’s hope that there was a carrot at the end of the stick. He set retirement at age 70 when the average life expectancy was 42.5, and for those who made it to 20, they could hope to live all the way to 60. In 1913 the U.S. institutionalized it at age 65, three years after the average age of death in the U.S. Hmmm… great – thanks.
This was actually only the natural evolution of an Age that asked us to give the best 8-12 hours of our day, the best six days of our week, and the best 40 years of our lives to do something that was many times not fulfilling and did not allow you to think, be creative, or express your humanity. But if you worked hard, you could enjoy what’s left of your day, your week, and your life – AFTER we got the best of what you had to offer.
The Industrial Age worker bought it hook line and sinker, and as a result we have a whole nation of people who dream about “retirement”, which implies at least two things:
- Work is not fulfilling – it’s just a means to a future end a long way off.
- Significance and fulfillment is something you get AFTER you’ve worked really hard for decades.
Fortunately the alphabet generation (Gen X and Y) don’t have the baggage of having grown up in the Industrial Age, and are leading a peaceful revolt against the whole idea. They expect work to be fulfilling, meaningful, significant, and enjoyable RIGHT NOW. Not when they retire. It’s mystifying to their parents because it looks like they’re not willing to “settle down and get a job”. (pssst – Mom/Dad – they never will).
We need to learn how to stop waiting on decades of toil to eventually get us to something meaningful. I would suggest that you replace “Retirement” with “Ideal Lifestyle”. Retirement happens at 65-ish, but your Ideal Lifestyle is in your own hands to create any time you want. And as a business owner, I believe you can get there in 3to5Years from the printing of your business card.
If you’ve been in business for 20 years and aren’t at your Ideal Lifestyle, you might want to look at the model in your head for what your intending to get out of all this. Likely you just took your employee mindset with you from the Industrial Age and that giant corporation you used to work for, and repeated that same system that will (maybe) allow you to retire someday
He who makes the rules wins. Stop accepting the rules handed down to you by the Industrial Age and USE YOUR BUSINESS TO GET TO YOUR IDEAL LIFESTYLE – now. Life shouldn’t be meaningful tomorrow, because tomorrow never comes.
Take a look at my book at and other posts here to see how to get off this treadmill. You’ll enjoy life a lot more if you do.