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.”