Monday, 4 April 2011

Retirement? No thanks.

In any gathering of senior consultants it is not long before talk turns to retirement. The general consensus is always that retirement is that wonderful goal to which we all aspire, the ultimate target, crossing the finish line and enjoying a life of leisure. 

What is interesting is when you ask what people are going to do in their retirement. Amazingly many have not looked any further than the day after retirement, and have no plans for what they are going to do with all that time on their hands.

This may seem like heresy, but there are a lot of downsides to attaining retirement. Firstly there is the instant transformation from a person of status, responsibility and importance to being some aimless bloke, getting under his wife’s feet all the time. Many of our colleagues, with egos the size of Dorset, must find this a huge culture shock.

Then there is the fact that the bodily deterioration starting at that age precludes many of the activities we might have thought of taking up. Unless you have an activity that you have pursued while working, you are going to find it very hard starting something new.

This excellent article by Bob Bury illustrates that retirement is not all it is cracked up to be. 

Ian Duncan Smith has suggested that many would prefer to work on after 65. Most of my colleagues scoff at this suggestion, intending to go at 60, but I think he has a point. I personally would be inclined to work on as long as I can retain my edge, but then, I have always loved my work. It would require of course that my immediate colleagues let me know, as gently as possible, when I am starting to lose it. Some I am sure would tell me that point has already come and gone.

Sadly retirement and ageing go hand in hand, and ageing is not something I look forward to. The only thing you can say about growing old is, as Maurice Chevalier said, “it’s better than the alternative.”


  1. You certainly need to plan for it.

    I have joined a fine arts society and a choir, so that I have something to do. I may well do an Open University degree, non-medical of course.

    I am starting to manage the process by handing over responsibilities (such as second year students and commissioning). Succession planning is vital.

    But when I am 60 I shall put on my hat, jump on my horse and ride off into the sunset, and not look back.

    None of us are indispensible.

  2. It's all very well for IDS to say that people want to work past 65 but he has never done physical labour. I saw a recent interview with some computer whizz who said he wanted to work until he was over 70 - great but again he has spent his life sitting at a desk. In my area, and I'm sure others, men retired at 65 and died at 66 or 67. This was expected and understood would happen. I do not want to be a part of that statisitic.

    I have a painful back, I have had an MI and a CABG and if I am not careful my job is going to kill me. So given the choice I will go at 63 but will go at 60 if I feel it is necessary. But one thing I would say, I have kept up my side of the bargain as far as my pension is concerned - I have paid in every month - so why can't the government keep their side and pay me what was promised. And as a person who gets superannuation I will pay tax as a pensioner and will not get any benefits. Sometimes it appears to be better to p*ss your wages up a wall than to save for your retirement.

  3. As an addendum; who the h*ll wants a 66 year old nurse looking after them? Adrenaline, Defib, Zimmer! You'll be dead before I get near you.