Many years ago, I worked with a guy who died on the job. My co-workers were shocked when they learned that the guy was old enough for, not only the company pension, but also social security. What the hell was he thinking still working? The only thing we could think was (a) he had an easy, nonstressful job and (b) he enjoyed the camaraderie with co-workers that his job allowed. Also, the four-day workweeks and generous vacation benefits enabled him to engage in as much leisure as he desired. So, in a way, it all made sense.
Today, however, most people who talk about working forever don’t have a nonstressful, fun job with generous benefits. Rather, they are recognizing the fact that they haven’t saved enough (pensions, social security, 401k) to live comfortably the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, that makes sense, too.
But what about the people who can afford to retire, yet choose not to? A fellow retiree recently suggested various rationales for such a decision. Although he was comfortable with his decision, he wanted to consider what other people might be thinking. Among the rationales that he generated:
- A bad, unattractive home life (a disagreeable family)
- An empty home life (no outside interests)
- A self-image that will shrink because it is based on job status
- A protestant work ethic that wants to remain productive
- A job that involves doing good works
In the end, each individual is the best judge on how to maximize happiness, and that is why there is no right answer. Just consider yourself lucky to have a choice.