I work, so I am

Several years ago someone asked me when I was going to retire. It was a normal course of event. People stopped working at 55 and retired. I am still working, more of a necessity than anything else. Over the weekend I heard of this friend who is going to ask for extension of employment. He is in the mid 60s. He is not the Ah Pek that needs a job to pay for the next meal. He is a CEO of a MNC. Why would he want to continue working at that age? His children are on their own. He had not only bought them a car each, but also a landed property each. And his own net worth is easily $20-$30m. Doesn't he want to spend the rest of his life playing golf, sail or travel around the world, doing things that he did not have the chance to do before, playing with his grandchildren, or become a small emperor in Bintan, Batam or JB? He cannot retire, and he must not retire. He does not want to be known as a retiree. It sounded as if he is a worthless man, a retiree! Many of these successful and multi milllionaires may have fallen into this same situation. The fear of retirement and the loss of their big titles. They want to be known as CEO, Director or Chairman of this and that. Money is also good, for some, for doing nothing. And there are all the perks and the names and name cards to throw around. All these people will work until they die. They live to work and work to live. That is their meaning of life. The only reason to justify their existence as a human being, to work and work and work. Perhaps we should glamorise the title multi millionaire or billionaire and people who are so rich should print it on their name cards as a status symbol. And they can add in the phrase, 'I don't need to work.' I like to gripe about people not knowing how to die gracefully. Now there are all these successful people who can afford to retire gracefully to enjoy a life with newfound freedom that money can buy. But retire they not.


Wally Buffet said...

This is a good piece.

Personally, I think most people would want to retire as early as possible, their economic situation permitting. People who crave work after a ripe old age and not doing so for monetary gain are usually those with an obsessive desire for power, attention and status as you put it. It being obsessive, it is no longer normal. Take away the aspects that make their job attractive and they would be out of the office in double quick time.

There are many phases to a person's life. Childhood, school, university, work, retirement. Three quarters of our lives are spent preparing for work and work itself, so we should not begrudge ourselves a time when we can do what we like not have to do what we must.

With some financial planning and support from children and a desire to lead a simple life, retirement is something to look forward to. I don't know about other retirees but everyday is a good day with lots of interesting things to do.

As a retiree, I too have a name card. With the usual contact information, my position is spelt out clearly, "Professional Retiree".

redbean said...

you must add in 'millionaire' in your card.

Matilah_Singapura said...

I intend to keep working until I die.

I absolutely love what I'm doing. Getting paid is almost a type of "bonus" for me.

Going into retirement will shorten my lifespan — I truly believe that.

Matilah_Singapura said...

P.S. It isn't always about "the money". Making enough money to live is never a problem if you live in the developed world — with reasonably free markets, good social institutions, individual freedom, the rule of law and abundant productive capacity.

People spend their lives worrying about money too much, and equating "success" with money. That isn't to say money isn't important — it sure is. But to me, it is only means to an end — a tool, a device. It is not the end in and of itself.

The most valuable resource is TIME, and the second a functioning mind. If you have time and a good mind, you can accomplish just about anything you like. This is not some pop-psychology bullshit. Essentially that is all you have — whether the chips are up or down: time, and you mind. One day, all of our time will run out, and our minds will degenerate, so the reader might want to consider the truism: "make the best of it, right here, right now".

redbean said...

this is a iffy discussion. if i have enough that i don't need to work anymore, i have many other things that i would like to pursue at my own time. time and health and money are the 3 things that can make living so wonderful.

Wally Buffet said...


Are you confusing me with my idol the real McCoy who is the reigning grandmaster of investment and finance?

I stay in a 3 room HDB, drives a beat up jalopy, pays $4 for a movie ticket, enjoys 66 cents MRT trips end to end if I want to be sardine canned. I don't drink. I don't smoke. I don't gamble.

But I am HAPPY!

Wally Buffet said...

Matilah and Redbean,

Trust me. Retirement is best. Wake up in the morning if you want to. Sleep the whole day if you feel like it. Play with your grandchildren when they come visiting. Visit exotic locales for photo shoots. Have a shoestring night out if you are bored. The list of things to do is endless. The image of an Ah Pek staring at the celing in a void deck is a cliche. You don't have to live it.

redbean said...

when one can afford to choose to work or not to work, now that is what i mean by retirement. when one still needs to work to keep oneself alive, that is not retirement.

and when one can afford to retire, yes, no need millions, just spend within your own budget, live simply and do what makes one happy, what more does one want to ask for?

Anonymous said...

The wise man does whatever makes him/her happy.

Matilah_Singapura said...


I can wake up when I want to or sleep the whole day should I choose to (and I do when I'm exhausted), but I prefer routine. I don't have issues with time for friends or family, and travel as the need or urge arises.

I do not view my work as "a drag", I absolutely love my work. Sure different strokes for different folks. I definitely do not "envy" anyone who has or chooses to retire. If that's what they want, good for them. I like routine, planning, purpose, difficult goals, learning new things and challenges — doing stuff I initially have no clue about, or suck at horribly and enjoy the process at transcending my obstacles to eventually "get something" I didn't have before. (I know this is beginning to sound like a "job application", so I beg your indulgence)

Wally Buffet said...

Hey fellas,

You guys better take it easy. Work less, enjoy more because Doomsday is coming on December 21, 2012.



Enjoy! Oops, did I said that? Sorry, it should be grovel in fear!

Matilah_Singapura said...

Relax. Those sun, god and devil worshiping ancients were even dumber and more gullible than your average latte-sipping mall-rat these days.

The earth and the universe will outlive us all. There's plenty lenty of time to work, rest, play and have sex.

The Universe Is Trying To Kill You — from the cosmic level to the microscopic level of carcinogens, toxins, viruses, bacteria and cosmic and/or terrestrial radiation bombarding human tissue...

...but there is no need to fear if you have The Audacity Of No-Hope.

Enjoy Yourself, while you're still in the pink!