Monday, June 9, 2008

Early retirement was always the plan

From the day I started my engineering career, I already had a plan to retire early. On that first day, I learned that I would be eligible for full retirement at age 54. I was 23 yo and that sounded like a long ways off. I decided right then to make it a challenge to better that date. At the time, I didn’t even know whether I would like my job, let alone engineering in industry. A few months later, I was certain that early retirement was for me.

As I looked around the halls, I noticed that there were a lot of old people working in this place. I know everyone looks old to a 23 yo college grad, but these guys were really old. Some engineers just never quit. For instance, even today, I work with people that are in their late 70’s. They have no plans to retire. It’s frightening to think that one day we will probably find them expired at their desk. It has happened here before.

I know these people love engineering and they enjoy being with their work families, but come on. There must be something else? Surely they have a hobby or even a desire to sleep in occasionally? Did they lose their something else? How many years does it take to lose it? Is there some switch that gets flipped and one day you walk in to work and you never want to leave?

Or maybe these folks always wanted to work forever? Hmmm. I can’t imagine that. Nobody says they want to work for a large corporation for fifty years of their life and die at their desk. Do they?

Very few of these geriatrics are driven by money. At their age, they are triple dipping: they are required to draw their pension, eligible for social security and still earning a salary. These guys are rolling in the dough. Money and wealth is no longer the target.

I hope I never understand this desire to work for someone else to the end of time. To me, retirement is a chance to explore anything I want in life. To these guys, retirement is doing the same thing they have been doing for many, many years.

I keep thinking that they are missing something in their lives, but could it be that they have completed their explorations and found whatever it is that the rest of us are looking for?

1 comment:

  1. I think this concept was explained well in the movie "Shawshank Redemption". It discusses being "institutionalized", the state where a convict has been in prison for so long that they are no longer able to function on their own away from jail.
    I think some folks get into a routine that eventually becomes their life. For others, it's a matter of needing to be told what to do in order to determine what their tasks for the day will be.