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Reasons not to retire just yet

Work in retirement: why not — it gives you purpose, money and Bermuda needs your skills and knowledge

I don’t believe in retirement. Why should I or you? Governments and those “all-knowers” across the spectrum, say you should.

According to Mary Lou Weisman in “The History of Retirement, From Early Man to A.A.R.P”, writing in the New York Times in March 1999: “In the beginning, there was no retirement. There were no old people. In the Stone Age, everyone was fully employed until age 20, by which time nearly everyone was dead, usually of unnatural causes. Any early man who lived long enough to develop crow's feet was either worshipped or eaten as a sign of respect.”

Cotton Mather, the 18th-century Puritan minister, when not advocating burning witches, proposed that elderly people should be “pleased with the retirement which you are dismissed into”, Wikipedia tells us.

Not only are we not pleased to be dismissed, but increasingly, economists and people themselves are demonstrating that they will (and want) to work until they die, or close to it!

Here are four good reasons to work longer or not retire:


What’s so significant about this trend is that it is great to continue to earn the money well into older years. Every bit counts, particularly since government pensions – if you are lucky enough to have one – are generally nowhere near adequate for good health into longevity survival.

It also means that working until you make the decision to fully exit the workforce, is in your control, not some arbitrary government or commerce edict.

Working longer also contributes resoundingly to one’s feeling of purpose, fulfilment, identity, and self-respect because you are still a person of influence in your family and community.

My individual bias aside, observations of too-many-to-count clients from my long-term international financial planning profession as well as from residing in a retirement community, reinforces the fact that individuals were very often not prepared for how retirement could change their lives, both financially and psychologically.

I attribute the constant messages from social media and industry featuring retirement images “martinis watching a golden sunset, visiting magical lands on high-style cruise ships in perpetuating unrealistic expectations along with when money concerns are also smoothly discussed, that all will be well. Reinforce that image repeatedly, it becomes a complacent reality.

Except it may not be.

Purpose: you make a difference

Financiers, publishing moguls, entertainers, politicians, investment gurus, statespersons, judiciary (appointments for life), global influencers, CEOs, economists, entrepreneurs, self-employed, etc. all have the option to retire (or not) when they want to.

One only need look at any commerce/finance and media publications to see vital individuals in enduring ages: 70 is young, 80 to 90 not the least bit unusual.

Why are they still working?

• More money?

• More prestige?

• More power?

• More social influence?

Maybe all of the above, but my opinion is that they have an explicit purpose and the authority to effect change.

A purpose-filled life is so important in later years. Purpose maintains your identity, who you are, how you feel about yourself and how your values impact others.

Those of us, in the present, are not always able to consider how to manage that challenge as we proceed along life’s pathways.

It’s totally understandable. Life happens as you rush along, barely coping some days with just the financial and other demands of day itself. It becomes easy to lose focus and hard to set aside time to plan on what’s ahead.

Your skills and acquired knowledge are vital to the accumulated human experience

Accumulated knowledge is extremely valuable.

So much of what we learn is not in books, but rather intuitive, innovative, and instinctive. These qualities are built on generation after generation, through the entire apprenticeship movement, then to open access to community education.

Every single older individual, up to and including those over 100 years of age, in Bermuda alive today has been through life, working, growing in knowledge – self-taught or formally educated. They have experienced the best of times and the worst that demanded pure innovative and survival skills, again and again.

The changes they have seen; the expertise they have acquired; the skills they have taught; the problem-solving capabilities greatly heightened by living on an island dependent upon outside resources. Whether a minor technical issue, or a major threat to life itself, Bermuda islanders’ ingenuity have always developed a solution.

In current commerce, workforce hiring still tends to focus on younger, faster, deemed more astute employees – until a major issue occurs such as the global capital market flash crash during the early outbreak of Covid-19 in March 2020, when it was rumoured that younger traders who had never experienced a market collapse were panic-selling. Older, experienced investment personnel who had seen these patterns numerous times, understood market volatility to be temporary and expected a recovery.

Industry should consider keeping older experienced employees, so life skills competent, real independent problem solvers and more working longer.

To those vacillating about retiring – why not retrain, reskill, up your education qualities? It is never, ever, too late to learn.

Wiser and older! More US community colleges are recruiting students over the age of 50 to assist them in marketability and to utilise older population resources to the fullest.

Bermuda has a longevity problem

Our Bermuda population is still trending downward according to the latest population statistics.

Plus the longevity factor, the ratio of old to young, continues to increase. Lots of older people; youngsters, the hope of the future, not so much.

Older and unhealthier; younger, full of life.

It’s an increasing economic labour concern for government and industry, and is trending larger each year.

So, those who want to continue to work after that “defined retirement age”, what are you waiting for?

Plan early – I encourage you to plan now.

The only caveat.

You must be economically, physically, technically, and socially aware of current industry employment standards. Upgrade those skills, upgrade yourself. If you want to work, work. You are a valuable asset.

You are in control of your future life!

Next: part two. Retirement: Embracing the Age of Enlightenment to illuminate your life series will be featured monthly.

Readers: parts four and five, anatomy of a mortgage contract is on hold because in order to completely report the final discussion of a Bermuda-based mortgage terms and conditions, I need a copy of a Bermuda mortgage contract. Any volunteers?

Martha Harris Myron is a native Bermuda islander with US connections. Author of Bermuda’s First Financial Literacy Primer – the Dawn of New Beginnings, Bermy-Bermuda Island Finance Blog at www.marthamyron.com. All her media proceeds donated to the Bermuda Sloop Foundation. Contact: martha.myron@gmail.com

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Published November 05, 2022 at 8:01 am (Updated November 06, 2022 at 4:18 pm)

Reasons not to retire just yet

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