Retirement as a concept was invented through a combination of factors in the late 19th and early 20th century. In 1883, German Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck introduced a state funded pension for all of those over the age of 65 (of which were were few!) as Marxists threatened to take control of Europe (for more information see this useful article)
Then in in a 1905 valedictory address, world renowned Physician William Osler proclaimed that after that age of 60, the average worker was “useless” and should be put out to pasture. Over the next 50 or so years, and through numerous political and economic changes, retirement was born as a societal norm.
So now we live in a world where in the majority of economies, somewhere between the age of 50 and 65, people are expected to pack up their brief cases, toolboxes, or uniform and live a non-working life for the rest of their days.
But what about a future where we don’t have a single job, one individual source of income, and a life which doesn’t involve the traditional Monday-Friday 9-5 working week?
Last year a new term emerged into the world, that of pre-tirement. The stage where an individual enters a transition from working life to retirement when an individual may start to reduce working hours but still generate wealth and contribute to an economy.
But even this works on the basis that retirement is a point in time where all work stops, and that every individual is working towards a date in time.
So what future for retirement?
Whilst I don’t believe the term retirement is going away any time soon, its relevance and significance will certainly diminish. The phase people will actually reach is that of financial freedom. The point at which they can be more selective about their working decisions.
The point where their financial position is such that they need to work as regularly as previously, but may choose to do so for the right challenge. They will still take on work, but will not feel the pressure to take on everything they are offered.
The age at which this point arrives will be completely decided by individual, their financial needs, and their personal desires. Not by their employer (as they will have no single one), not by the government and not by society.
So if you’re of working age right now, best start thinking about what your Point of Financial Freedom is. And how you plan to reach it and what lies beyond it.