We don’t actually want to retire and do nothing. We just want to do something we love. And I’m not talking about endless days of back nines, fishing, and sailing into the sunset. While we might want some time to do those things, you’d be surprised to learn how quickly the bloom can come off of that type of rosy retirement. I believe that we’d all be better served by taking the concept of ikigai and distilling it into what I call the 4 S’s:
Social: Friends, peers, and coworkers who brighten our days and fulfill our social needs.
Structure: The alarm clock ringing because you have a reason to get up in the morning, and the resulting satisfaction you get from earned time off.
Stimulation: Keeping our minds challenged by learning something new each day.
Story: Being part of something bigger than ourselves by joining a group whose high-level purpose is something you couldn’t accomplish on your own.
Now, am I saying that if you’re six weeks away from your final punch-out after 30 years on the job, you should suddenly skewer your dreams and ramp up for 30 more? Of course not. What I’m saying is that retirement is a Western invention from days gone by that’s based on broken assumptions that we want — and can afford — to do nothing.