Skip to navigationSkip to content

Don’t wait until 65: The key to a happy, creative work force is to retire early and often

AP Photo / Mike Derer
Every few years, it pays to leave the rat race behind.
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

The days when workers in the developed economies could look forward to a job for life followed by retirement at 65 are gone. We are all self-employed now.

We take responsibility for our own careers, everything from education to retirement. Despite this we remain trapped inside a “linear career” paradigm–education, employment, followed by retirement. And debates are waging worldwide on exactly what age that should happen, with Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein this week saying that Americans need to work longer.

But maybe we are unduly putting the burden of retirement on the wrong people: The old. What if everyone retired, earlier and more often? We are already seeing the first signs of a paradigm shift–with most of us interspersing periods of education and employment throughout our careers. To complete this shift, we need to begin interspersing periods of retirement as well.

This would have many practical benefits. More time at home with our children when they are young. Less time hanging around waiting for them to call when they have grown up and moved out.

It would also make us better professionals by feeding our playfulness and creativity, the qualities that transform a consumer of information into a creator of knowledge.

This also creates a new opportunity for the financial services industry–”retirement loans.” Just like student loans we will borrow to fund, not life-long education, but life-long retirement. We will pay these loans off by working some of our retirement years.

Irish writer Oscar Wilde claimed that youth is wasted on the young. He could have also have claimed that retirement is wasted on the retired.

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.