A Man Called Otto
Retirement was an invention for a different time
There’s a recently released Tom Hanks film titled “A Man Called Otto.”
It’s based on the bestselling novel titled “A Man Called Ove” from Swedish author Fredrik Backman. This book was also developed into a movie of the same name.
But today, I want to introduce you to a different “Otto”…
The year is 1881, and a German chancellor first introduced the concept of “retirement.”
He proposed that citizens stop work at age 70 and that the German government would provide support for them.
His name… Otto Von Bismarck.
This was at a time in our history where most work was still manual labor on farms.
And most people worked until they literally couldn’t any longer due to disability or death.
If they couldn’t work, their family would take care of them.
Interestingly, according to this article, the life expectancy in Germany in 1880 was approximately 39 years.
So I’d imagine that the number of folks making it to age 70 at that time was pretty low.
It’s worth noting that military pensions predate this introduction of retirement.
But “retirement” has only been around for about 140 years. It’s a relatively new concept in the context of our time on the planet.
Yet today, many people - myself included - aren’t performing physically demanding work day in and day out.
There are many, many who do hard, sweaty, physical, dirty - but much in demand - work.
And I’m grateful that they do.
But I wonder if retirement needs to evolve into something better aligned with our present reality?
Or maybe retirement - in the traditional sense - should be eliminated?
At a minimum, I believe we could all benefit from reframing our attitude and approach to retirement.
There are some who argue that retirement is a flawed concept.
And studies have shown that “early” retirement can accelerate cognitive decline.
So am I suggesting that you don’t retire?
That you work until you can’t?
Of course not.
However, I am encouraging you to consider a different approach to retirement…
Primary among them is to start living - and really enjoying - your life TODAY!
Why wait until you’re 65 or older to begin enjoying the fruits of your labor?
Why not now?
When the kids are younger?
When you’re healthy and more mobile?
Perhaps you can take some mini-retirements starting in your 40s.
As a nation, we’re terrible at vacation.
And from a purely financial perspective, you’re leaving money on the table if you’re not taking all your paid vacation days each year.
If you have 3 weeks of paid vacation and you only take 2 of them each year, you’re basically working for free for a week.
And if we can’t take vacation when we’re paid to, how are we going to deal with a “permanent vacation” in the form of retirement?
I don’t have the answers, but I think it’s an important question.
And it’s one that I regularly discuss with my clients.
So many of us focus on preparing for retirement financially.
And rightly so. Life is expensive. And lives are getting longer.
But I’ve found some of us fail to consider how we’ll spend our time in retirement…
What will you do when you have an abundance of time?
How much of your identity is tied up in your work?
Are you prepared?
And why not take ALL your paid vacation and start testing what retirement might be like - and feel like - today?
I have some clients that have transitioned beautifully to retirement.
In fact, they often joke that they’re not quite sure how they ever found the time to go to work.
But between concerns around the long-term viability of programs like Social Security, our long-term trend of increasing life expectancies, and our collective lack of financial preparation, retirement could be a rude awakening for many.
My hope is that retirement will be the best years of your life.
But you don’t have to wait until some arbitrary age or until you’ve quit working to start living it up.
Thanks for reading Wealthcare for Women! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Links & things
At the beach
Elizabeth, Winnie, and I are at the beach as you’re reading this.
We’re spending some time at Cape San Blas in the Florida panhandle, as I’ve already shared with my clients.
Taking my own advice about vacation 😉
I’m grateful to have you as a reader.
If you have any questions or an idea for a future newsletter, blog post, or YouTube video, I'd love your input.
Just hit reply - I read (and truly appreciate) every email you send.
Until next Wednesday,