Do People Like to Retire?

Is retirement all this?

“The trouble with retirement is that you never get a day off.”
–Abe Lemons

Cliff’s Notes: Yes. People do like to retire. 93% of them, in fact.

There’s recently been a series of advertisements from some brokerage that talks about the first day of retirement. There are all of these stories of how great it was and how wonderful they felt and there were unicorns and bacon-flavored chocolate fountains.

Many of us talk about retirement. Most of my client engagements revolve around retirement planning. We have idyllic pictures of what retirement is like.

Except, there’s one problem with the retirement “planning” that most of us do.

We actually have no vision of what retirement is like! It’s this great, nebulous unknown. The only thing that we know is that we won’t have to get up and go to work. Beyond that, who knows?

Since we don’t really have this vision in our heads driving our planning and allowing us to sacrifice now for a desired future, it’s very easy for us to allow Monkey Brain to take over when it comes to allocating our money. Monkey Brain knows what a 183” flat screen TV will look like in the man cave. He has no idea what retirement is. That’s way out in the future. Since it’s so far out into the future, and we don’t really have a good picture of what retirement looks like, we’re very likely to subject ourselves to a psychological bias called hyperbolic discounting so that we significantly discount what happens in our future compared to what’s happening right now.

I explain how to combat this amorphous image in the article Retire TO Something. It’s critical to have a vision of where you’re going.

The good news is what once you get there, life is actually pretty good. A study by the National Institute on Aging shows that, by and large, retired people actually like being retired. In a 2000 survey, 61% of the retirees surveyed said that they found retirement “very satisfying” and 33% said that they found it ‘moderately satisfying.” Only 7% said that their retirement was not satisfying (and I’d be willing to wager that they were retiring from something rather than to something).

Keep striving for the finish line. There’s happiness out there to be had, but don’t forget to enjoy your life along the way. No point in being unhappy for most of your life only to be happy at the end of it.

Do you think you’ll like being retired? Are you already retired? If so, are you happy with it? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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Jason Hull was the co-founder of Broadtree Partners, a firm that acquires $1-5MM EBITDA companies. He also was the co-founder of open source search consultancy OpenSource Connections, a premier Solr and ElasticSearch firm. He and his wife FIREd (financial independence retire early) at 46 and 45, respectively. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and a MBA from the University of Virginia Darden Graduate School of Business. He held a CFP certification from 2015 - 2021. You can read more about him in the About Page. If you live in Johnson County, Texas or the surrounding areas, he and his wife are cash buyers of Johnson County, Texas houses.

2 thoughts on “Do People Like to Retire?

  1. After a decade of retirement, I still feel that the best part is having more control over your time for focusing on your priorities!

    Of course the other side of this benefit is that you have to be responsible for your own entertainment… I know way too many military veterans who unfortunately depend on the office environment for their lifestyle structure and their socializing.

    1. With great opportunity comes great responsibility. Wait…wrong quotation. Yes, I am a firm believer that you are responsible for your own happiness (blog post coming up about that in the future). You’re spot on – the key is what you do with that spare time which determines your satisfaction and fulfillment.

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