More Proof Why Workers Don’t Necessarily Need to Retire at Age 65

I read a wonderful story last week about the longest serving nurse in Michigan, Dorthe Canty, who is retiring at the ripe old age of 89!

Having worked in a health system, I can tell you this is no small feat for one simple reason: it’s tough being on your feet for 50+ years taking care of patients. Can you imagine what pushes someone to work in such a demanding field until the age of 89? Here’s what Dorthe had to say:

“What am I going to do instead – sit at home?”

I love that!

Shouldn’t the goal be to enjoy life while living?

Why is it we push so hard for everyone to retire at 65? That’s what we do as HR Pros. As soon as someone starts having those birthdays pop up around 62, 63, 64, we start hinting around those questions – “So, Charlie when are you going to retire?”  “What’s your plan for retirement Sue?”, etc.

It’s really one of those American cultural norms that our government started when they decided Social Security should start at 65 – that was our little reminder that at age 65 you become too broken down to work any longer! Thank you – but like so much of what our government set up in 1930?s and 1940?s, it is really no longer relevant.

We now raise our kids to believe that retirement, basically to stop working and start having fun, should be their goal. I think we should change it.

I don’t think I’ll ever stop working. I have three boys to put through college, then I have weddings, then I hope to have an untold number of grandchildren that will need to learn how to hit a curveball and master the crossover dribble, then I have another round of college, and well, you know life just keeps coming at you. The goal shouldn’t be to stop working; the goal, the expectation should be to enjoy your life while you are living it.

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Why I don’t need retirement

I don’t need retirement at 65 for one simple reason: I enjoy what I’m doing, and oh by the way, I get paid to do it! If (or when) that stops, I’ll find something else I enjoy, and usually if I enjoy something, I find a way to make money at it, because I like money. It allows me to give things to my family, which I enjoy most of all.

You see work doesn’t define me at 41-ish. The combination of my family, my friends, my work, my life defines me ,so retirement doesn’t sound like a goal I want, it sounds, quite frankly. like an end.

I think it was that way for Dorthe Canty as well. She didn’t want to just sit home on the sidelines, she wanted to be in the game, she wanted to participate in life. So do I.

Tim Sackett will speak on What Your CEO Wished HR Would Do at the TLNT Transform conference in Austin, TX Feb. 26-28, 2012. Click here for more information on attending this event. 

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.

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1 Comment on “More Proof Why Workers Don’t Necessarily Need to Retire at Age 65

  1. Hi Tim —- Frankly I think the government needs to relook at that retirement age.   I know it is a touchy subject —- but back when they set the age of 65 for collecting SS people didn’t live as long as they do today.   I’m like you.   I love what I do and and like Dorthe I don’t want to sit in a rocking chair either.   I don’t want to become one of those old ladies that sit together and talk about their operations!!

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