Planning, Startups, Stories


Tim Berry on business planning, starting and growing your business, and having a life in the meantime.

Why I’ll Never Retire

Ugh, baby boomers, retirement, selling the business … ouch. Strikes me like “lions, tigers, and bears,” in the Wizard of Oz. Scary.

I’m 61. It was my choice to change my job more than two years ago, so that now instead of managing my company with 45 employees I’m writing, speaking, blogging, and teaching. And I thank God that I had that choice. The company’s better off with a new management team, and I’m better off with a new job. But I worry about the rest of us. Retirement scares the hell out of me.

One of my closest friends retired two years ago. Now he’s bored out of his mind, looking for things to do, and not happy about it.

I’ve seen some successful retirements: it seems to work when they jump from one thing to another, something they like, something they’ve always wanted to do. Golf and fishing, or the equivalent, are rarely enough.

One variable that I’m sure matters is liking what you do. As my good friend now retired used to talk about it with relish, just 3-4 years ago, it always sounded great to him, but horrible to me. And, no surprise, he was tired of his work, but had nowhere else obvious to go. I was getting tired of the managing, but I did have somewhere I wanted, badly to go: the writing, speaking, etc. I still love the company I started, just not the day-to-day management of it. I liken my new job here to the concept of a safe harbor. It’s different, it’s easily separable from what I did for years, but it’s still the same company, same industry. And it also keeps me away from meddling with the new management, which (I’m pretty sure) is a relief to them.

Apparently I’m not the only one. I just read Steve King’s Greying of the Workforce post on Small Business Labs. Lots of grey-haired folks are staying on longer. And that’s because they want to, not because they have to.

And then there’s this, which turned up last week in Why Retirement is Bad For You, on Forbes.com

Studies show that men who retired from corporate jobs, donned their gold watches and lazed about at a resort lived measurably shorter lives than those who sought productive work (e.g., volunteering for organizations like SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives). In fact, plenty of retirees who traded productive work for sunshine and early-bird dinners dropped dead surprisingly soon after making the transition.

That seems like a variation on the same theme. Those older people in the work force are probably way better off for it, at least if they figure out how to be in jobs they like. Maybe that’s the best answer to an aging population?

One response to “Why I’ll Never Retire”

  1. […] part, I posted here just last week about me getting involved in new startups. And I’ve posted here before on how much I don’t want to retire, […]

  2. […] — seems as important to me as what I used to do. And I really like it. I posted earlier here Why I’ll Never Retire, and I’m sticking to […]

  3. […] — seems as important to me as what I used to do. And I really like it. I posted earlier here Why I’ll Never Retire, and I’m sticking to […]

  4. […] however, sounded terrible. I don’t like golf or fishing; and, while I do like writing, I like writing about business, and […]

  5. […] however, sounded terrible. I don’t like golf or fishing; and, while I do like writing, I like writing about business, and […]

  6. […] industry as well as our company, Princeton degree, and, yes, also my daughter.Retirement, however, sounded terrible. I don’t like golf or fishing; and, while I do like writing, I like writing about business, and […]

  7. […] Blog Week in Review — 11/5/09 Why I’ll Never Retire — Tim Berry talks about how liking what you do can make it more attractive to keep working, […]

  8. Ray Karsen says:

    I salute you Tim Berry. My 80th birthday is due in December this year and I am starting out on a brand new venture.
    I thank the lord that he has given me good health and the energy to continue following my passion.
    Many years ago I worked for a major Brewing company as their national sales manager. As in most corporations the work load and stress levels were enormous. After 20 years of relentless pressure I decided to get out and do my own thing.
    That was way back in 1975. Seven business ventures later I am still going strong and continue to get a major charge out of starting up a new enterprise. There is a wonderful sense of achievement that comes from building and developing a business from scratch.
    like you I don’t see myself retiring any time soon.
    A word to all those men and women approaching their retirement, don’t even think about it. Your knowledge and experience is far too valuable to be wasted on retirement. Get involved in something that you are passionate about stay young.

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