4 Reasons We Crave Retirement So Badly, Even When It’s Not Ideal

(4 Minute Read. Enjoy!)

Recently, I wrote a blog post about why we should never retire. Like many things in the world, retirement is a social construct, which we now believe to be gospel truth. It is, however, in conflict with human nature and its need for progress.

But so many people still crave retirement, even when it’s not ideal. And I’ve realised that there are many things that contribute to this undying craving of ours.


Hating Our Corporate Jobs

We hate a lot of things about our jobs. The draining commutes. The pointless meetings. The endless gossiping and politics. The meaningless work.

We hate that we don’t have a say but to show up at the office at 9AM every morning. Doesn’t matter if you have insomnia or a crappy night, you just show up.

We hate that we can’t work from home. Despite the fact that all we’re doing, is commuting to a computer in a cubicle.

We hate that we aren’t allowed to voice our disagreements, because that would mean getting fired. We hate that we don’t have a choice but to obey the instructions of those paying our wages.

We hate it all.

But in retirement, there isn’t a boss to report to. We can wake up as late as we want. We don’t have to spend our time beating rush hour traffic. We do whatever we want, with no consequences. No fear of getting fired.


The Constant State of Stress

Corporations won’t pay you a cent for non-performance.

And if they’re going to pay you? They’re going to squeeze you.

I took a lower-paying job with proportionally lower stress levels. But I know of friends who are being paid much more, with much higher stress levels.

They’re always running around all day, pushing as much paper as possible. They’re stressed out about trying to meet deadlines. They stay real late just to complete their work. They drown themselves in coffee just to burn the midnight oil.

But in retirement, you can just spend the day chilling. Doing whatever you want. No stress.


The Never-Ending Busy-Ness

Because of my lower-paying job, I’m not very stressed at work. But one thing I am, is busy.

While I know I can meet my deadlines before the end of the day, I have to hustle to get everything done. Pushing paper. Dealing with spreadsheets. Running through financials.

After work, I hustle with tutoring assignments. Sometimes, it’s just an hour-long session. Sometimes, it’s two hours.

But in retirement, there’s no need to constantly hustle. There’s no need to rush from place to place.


The Guilt that Accompanies Relaxation

I’ve been hustling seven days a week for a couple years now, with few breaks in between. I think I’ve gotten used to the fact that I hustle almost every single day.

Last Thursday, I had some free time after work. I didn’t have any tutoring. And I decided not to blog. So, I spent my evening binge-watching a ton of travel videos from my favourite content creators on YouTube.

As I tried to wind down for bed after my binge-watching session, I was overwhelmed with a wave of guilt. The voice in my head berated me heavily, “The hell, Liz. You just spent 2 hours watching YouTube videos. Why didn’t you try writing a blog post instead?

Sleep didn’t come easy that night. I tossed and turned, trying to suppress the feelings of guilt.

My first breather in a while, and I couldn’t even allow myself to enjoy it.

But in retirement, there won’t be any feelings of guilt. You don’t need to constantly hustle. You don’t need to constantly rush things out. There’s just pure, unadulterated relaxation.


I Guess You Can Say I’m Tired.

I’m tired of my job. I’m tired of my 45-hour work weeks. I’m tired of the stress. I’m tired of always being busy.

And I’m extremely tired of the fact that I can’t even enjoy a guilt-free evening that I’ve designated for relaxation.

Even though I’ve decided to never retire, sometimes, the allure of retirement is great.

In the past, I dreamt about retirement as something where I could sit back and do literally nothing. Sit on my porch and wave to the kids running by for school. Maybe watch some telly. Eat. Watch more telly. Fall asleep at 9PM when I get tired.

Rinse and repeat.

Sometimes, when the constant stress and busy-ness wears you down, retirement really seems like the dream.

Even when you know that retirement’s just a social construct.

Even when you know that retirement is in conflict with human nature.

Even when you know that retirement isn’t ideal.


Thankful that you read all my ramblings,

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  1. Hi Liz, interesting take on this. In my worldview, all that the word ‘retirement’ means to me is that I am no longer a ‘wage slave.’ It means “I no longer work at this job,” not “I now sit around and do nothing all day.” It just means “now I get to do whatever I want all day!” LOL

    My parents were, and are, extremely frugal. Both were luckily able to retire from their full-time jobs while in their 50’s. They’re now in their 70’s and are exactly as busy as they want to be, and are very happy. One of the reasons they retired early is that my grandmother died of cancer at age 57 having never retired.

    1. Hi Ann! Thanks for your take on retirement. I suppose that retirement means different things to all of us 🙂 Perhaps it was my family that influenced my perspective on retirement. Because my family is wealthy, the women normally do not have to work. What I see is them bumming around at home and not doing very much. As such, I assumed from a young age that I would be doing the same thing after retirement. The broken assumptions of societal norms, I suppose.

      I’m so sorry to hear about your grandmother. But I’m very happy that your parents were able to retire early and enjoy the last 2 decades of their life doing fulfilling, meaningful work! I love hearing how the FIRE movement changes people’s lives.

  2. Hi Liz, Great post. I definitely connected with your idea about feeling guilty. We crave relaxation, but then we feel guilty when we have it! I think a lot of us have a workaholic mentality, and that’s hard to get away from, even when we’re totally worn down. When I tell people I’m retired, people are still asking me “what I’m doing with my time,” and when I say “relaxing,” it’s obvious that’s not kosher to them. So even in retirement, people are expecting you to be contributing somehow to the world….not that I disagree with that. So have a cover story ready when you go into retirement! I tell people I’m volunteering and tutoring (which is true), but I find it interesting that I can’t tell people that I’m retired for the rest of my life without getting either 1) strange looks 2) confused looks or 3) they completely ignore what I’ve said. Of everyone I’ve told about my early retirement, only 2 people have been genuinely interested in how I was able to make it happen.

    1. Thanks, Dragon Gal! I believe it’s because retirement connotes this meaning of relaxing + doing nothing with your time! The traditional notion, I suppose. And what’s wrong with relaxing right? You made it to early retirement, you ought to enjoy it 🙂 I’m trying to get myself to relax without feeling too guilty too. It’s hard, but I’ll get there somehow!

      It’s a real pity that only 2 people were interested in how you got to early retirement! At least you can connect with the like-minded people of the FIRE movement, we’ll understand you much better 😉

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