Senior couple riding motor scooter having fun.

Too Old to Work, Too Young to Retire

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sleepThere comes a point in all of our lives where we feel too old to work but too young to retire. The daily grind is taking its toll; we feel stuck on the treadmill of work, plodding along without going anywhere, unable to get off because we simply cannot afford to retire. Sound familiar? It’s a sad reality that many of the people I meet are in exactly the same boat and there is a whole generation of people who have lost their purpose, passion and joie de vivre.

So are you too old to work but too young to retire? The truth is, that feeling of being stuck in purgatory is self-imposed. And I don’t apologise for saying so. That feeling boils down to one important factor- you just haven’t found the right job! I firmly believe that once you find your passion in life, whatever your age, work no longer feels like a daily punishment, instead it becomes something you live, eat and breathe and love doing.

But what if you really are too old to work? Well I’m here to tell you that you are never too old to work! Don’t believe me? Well sit back and listen to the tale of Barbara Knickbocker-Beskind.

When Barbara Beskind (let’s drop the ‘Knickerbocker’, if you’ll excuse the pun) was a child she found her passion in life. As a child of the war, she knew that being a resourceful problem solver was a life skill. Money was incredibly tight during the Depression in America, and her father’s redundancy from the FBI further compounded the family’s financial plight. But this didn’t stop them getting on with living. Her and her family made everything they needed, except shoes and glasses, and Barbara made all of her own toys. As a child, Barbara knew that her passion was to use her creativity to invent and innovate.

too old to work too young to retire

In a modern, post-feminist, context, I have no doubt that Barbara would’ve gone to university, studied to be an engineer and had a truly fulfilling career. But this was nearly 70 years ago; Beskind’s Careers Councillor told her, in no uncertain terms, that women were not accepted by engineering schools, so Barbara joined the army and became an occupational therapist instead.

I’m not saying that Barbara didn’t have a rewarding career, but I’m certain that she always carried a sense of regret with her. To have found her passion but to have not embraced it is a saddening thought and one that I fear so many of us can empathise with.

But Barbara’s tale doesn’t end on a dismal note; quite the contrary in fact. Barbara didn’t think she was too old to work, but she did think she was too young to retire. At 89 years old she saw an advertisement for Silicon Valley based IDEO, who were recruiting for someone to add diversity to their design team. At 91, Barbara is now a much-loved member of the team, offering feedback to designers who are working on products for the elderly, and sharing her own design prototypes with her colleagues.

Barbara says “Age is not a barrier to performance. Live life as an adventure and expect change and endorse it, embrace it”.  Good on you Barbara! I don’t think you are ever too old to work. Barbara, a nonagenarian, suffers from a macular degeneration and uses modified ski poles to walk, but she’s still doing it. Once you find something you are deeply passionate about, your life will have purpose and you won’t want to stop. I urge you to take the best leap of your life- follow your dreams and love what you do.

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Getting older might make you feel like you are slowing down. Do not be fooled into thinking this is cognitive decline, you have so much information in your brain that it takes more time to access it! You can be stronger and happier in your retirement than ever before. Life is an adventure, you can expect change and embrace it. Learn the right time to retire, how to boost your retirement income and create your dream retirement. Follow your dreams and love what you do!

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