I never want to retire. Is this naïve?

I am in my early 20s, am still in college, and am still in the "what do I want to do career-wise" stage of my life. Given this, I have a very limited view of the reality of the working world. I do, however, feel resolved that I'll never retire. The idea of spending the final years of my life boating, golfing, and vacationing sounds like a nightmare to me. You hear stories about people who worked until the day they died. Not out of necessity, but because they loved what they did. Or you also hear about people who retire and then go to the unemployment office the next day to find a job. This is the attitude I aspire toward and hope to achieve. 

Is this realistic, or is this simply a fairy tale? Did anyone else set out in their career with this mindset? Does anyone here still have that mindset? Or does the stress and strain of the job eventually make you look forward to your retirement days?

Comments (60)

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Jul 22, 2022 - 3:38pm
Isaiah_53_5 💎🙌💎🙌💎, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Cedar on Mid

I am in my early 20s, am still in college, and am still in the "what do I want to do career-wise" stage of my life. Given this, I have a very limited view of the reality of the working world. I do, however, feel resolved that I'll never retire. The idea of spending the final years of my life boating, golfing, and vacationing sounds like a nightmare to me. You hear stories about people who worked until the day they died. Not out of necessity, but because they loved what they did. Or you also hear about people who retire and then go to the unemployment office the next day to find a job. This is the attitude I aspire toward and hope to achieve. 

Is this realistic, or is this simply a fairy tale? Did anyone else set out in their career with this mindset? Does anyone here still have that mindset? Or does the stress and strain of the job eventually make you look forward to your retirement days?

What is your major and GPA?

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Jul 22, 2022 - 3:40pm
Isaiah_53_5 💎🙌💎🙌💎, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Cedar on Mid

Finance with a minor in math and 4.0

Nice - sounds like you have good options. 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 1
Jul 22, 2022 - 4:14pm
financeabc, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I can appreciate the idea of never retiring.   I never want to completely retire because I get satisfaction from my job.  I do anticipate reducing hours as I get older, though. 

Jul 22, 2022 - 7:29pm
PrivateTechquity 🚀GME🚀, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Cedar on Mid

I am in my early 20s, am still in college

Stopped reading here. You don't know anything. You have not even remotely experienced real life or what it's like to work. Chill out, enjoy the last few years of minimal responsibility you'll ever have, and wait to make any judgements on what you're going to want in the future until, hear me out, the future. Could you end up like Buffet or the KKR founders investing well into their 80s? Sure. But all signs and statistics point to that not being the case. Take it a few years at a time, set goals, and just live life. 

Array

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Jul 22, 2022 - 7:52pm
Cedar on Mid, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thank you. That is great advice. However, I do say in the sentence after that that I have no experience in the real world. I fully acknowledge from the outset that my view of the subject is severely limited, which is why I made this thread in the first place. I didn't really care about my opinion in my original post, rather, I wanted to know if anyone who's years into their career shared this sentiment or if they started their careers with the intent of never retiring but then changed their minds. 

Jul 23, 2022 - 1:00pm
MonkeyNoise, what's your opinion? Comment below:

OP made me reflect on myself at that age and how surefire I was in what I wanted to do at the time, before truly getting to know myself

cringe in hindsight , and agree that it's an important lesson to learn to enjoy youth and freedom when you can. Yes when you're young you have the energy and desire to hustle. But old rich wealth individuals would pay a fortune to be in good health and the world at their finger tips again

work hard, but go easy on yourself, and enjoy what the world has to offer - which is not found in the office. I have a great career and educational background. It absolutely pales in comparison to the joys that life can bring in other areas

Jul 22, 2022 - 9:32pm
jackdonaghy26, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Wait till you are working till 3am on a Saturday on a 200q DDQ list for a bidder who you know will bid an insultingly low amount / ultimately pass. 

Array
  • 2
Jul 23, 2022 - 1:18am
SafariJoe, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I never want to retire if there really is such a thing.

SafariJoe, wins again!
Jul 23, 2022 - 4:26am
Kevin25, what's your opinion? Comment below:

let's see:

1) on one side you can create presentations that no one cares about and talk about nothing on never-ending calls trying to create more work for yourself even if there is really nothing substantial to do cause you need to create an impression of being busy so people don't question why they pay you

or 2) you can travel the world, meet new people, see new places, learn cultures, learn languages, learn musical instruments, play sports, learn mma/yoga/mediation, bang chicks.

I think the choice is clear.

if you really think 1 is better, then you probably have a lot of problems with yourself and want to run away from them by staying busy with work. I see quite a few of such people among seniors in finance and consulting - just miserable people trying to hide from their personal problems behind work.

Jul 23, 2022 - 4:37pm
sheldonxp, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I don't think most people who retire at a conventional age are doing half the things you mention in 2. Now if you're talking about FIRE and retiring at 35 or 40, sure that's different. But even then, most people would have a family and associated responsibilities, not traveling the world and banging chicks all year round.

Jul 23, 2022 - 11:09pm
Kevin25, what's your opinion? Comment below:

it's up to you. if you're in finance or consulting, you can retire by 40 or even semi-retire in 30s. and you can choose to have kids or have an open relationship instead. regardless of what you choose, retiring opens up opportunities for you to do a lot of things you can't do if you work.

Jul 23, 2022 - 12:11pm
Arroz con Pollo, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Lol give me $100M and I'm not working for anyone but myself, and even then my ass is traveling the world not giving a fuck until I die.

You sound like someone who has never had to work. People work because they need money to survive.

Jul 23, 2022 - 12:14pm
Patrick Basedmann, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The responses here show how people don't realise how different jobs are at junior levels vs senior levels

Also, old people die when they retire, they just sit around waiting to physically die. You should never retire completely, you think you're gonna travel to 30 countries at 65? I completely understand you don't work full time but having something to look forward to next week, next month, next year is very important to stay sane. Having your life be bed, TV, bed how 99% of old people live today is depressing.

Jul 23, 2022 - 12:42pm
equityanarchist, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Depends on the love of the game and if working is your entire life. Saw myself working till I croak but after 55 toning it down and getting some board seats or even running a general store / bar on an island. I feel it's fulfilling to always be working, that doesn't mean banking til you die though.

Jul 23, 2022 - 12:53pm
MonkeyNoise, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Lmao such a naive post, and saying that in an endearing way since we were all in your shoes at one point

its like saying you're fine working 80 hour weeks as an undergrad. When you do it you realize it's something else entirely. As a college kid you, truly, 

- have no idea what you want to do professionally until you do it

- have no idea what corporate world is like, the good and the bad that comes with it

- know your lifelong ambitions, dreams, interests, etc OUTSIDE of work - and what role money would play in that

in summary you have no idea who you are yet, what you want , what you will become, etc. you may have an idea of that and that's great but your 20s is as big a personal growth period as any other. 
 

lastly, when people say early retirement or FIRE or whatever they don't mean call it quits at 50-60, sit on a beach, drink margaritas, and rot away. You can still be productive but in your own pursuits compared to some corporate nonsense, which is much more rewarding even if financially less so. 

save this post and revisit it in 6-7 years and will be curious to see how your perspective has changed 

Jul 23, 2022 - 1:07pm
Cedar on Mid, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Oh I would agree with you. I'm pretty sure in the next decade or so my opinion on this will change. And yes, I recognize that at this point in my life I really don't know much of anything. However, this post was really less about me and my experience and more about asking if there were any people who have been working most of their adult lives and also do not want to retire or at least fully retire. 

It would seem that the answer is mostly no

Jul 23, 2022 - 1:15pm
MonkeyNoise, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The only people who don't retire are those who can't because of poor financial choices their entire life

or you have the true lifers, people who are deeply passionate about their industries, who rise to ceo or other executive levels, and eat sleep breath their work and enjoy doing so. Few people are this person. Many people think they are or strive to be. If you aren't then don't try to be

Jul 23, 2022 - 12:58pm
BenBernyankin', what's your opinion? Comment below:

 One thing I always loved about this forum aren't these posts, but rather the comments. It's the epitome of "do as I say not as I do." 90% of the comments shaming someone for wanting to work a lot and give out all the reasons why they shouldn't all work in IB/PE/HF high-stress/high-hour jobs. 

Y'all seem scared. 

Jul 23, 2022 - 1:01pm
Cedar on Mid, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Basically the message I'm getting from a lot of people is "if you want to love what you do for a living, don't go into high finance"

Jul 24, 2022 - 12:10pm
Whatever1984, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Cedar on Mid

Basically the message I'm getting from a lot of people is "if you want to love what you do for a living, don't go into high finance"

It depends.  Where I am in Asset Management R&D and sales/marketing support it's a lot of fun.  From what I see the PMs enjoy it even more than I do.  Most of them are pulling down significant 7 figures, and a few of them are pushing 80.  I'm not sure I've heard of any actually retiring as opposed to getting pushed out at my firm.  (Globally Peter Lynch is the great counter-example there--He retired in his 40s, but for every Lynch, there's a Bill Gross who just keeps working forever)

To expand on this and my earlier response too:  While I never PLAN on retiring, (and you may not either)  don't assume that you'll never "get retired."  It happened to my father in '08.  He lost his job and was never able to get back into his industry.  He was always either too expensive, or too old and stale.

The only difference between Asset Management and Investment Research is assets. I generally see somebody I know on TV on Bloomberg/CNBC etc. once or twice a week. This sounds cool, until I remind myself that I see somebody I know on ESPN five days a week.
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Jul 23, 2022 - 1:48pm
Pio nono, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I agree with this philosophy completely, but I'm in relaxing and stimulating middle market commercial banking. So no long hours, almost no stressful deadlines or situations, freedom to roam about the region visiting all sorts of businesses, plenty of time for long lunches and beer, lots of opportunity for golf, no baggage from securities licenses, etc.

Jul 23, 2022 - 3:24pm
BeautifullyConfused, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Go to: Barcelona, Italy, Ibiza, Mykonos, Sarontini, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, Shanghai, Hong Kong. The world is vast and wild. Just as you made the leap from your high school bubble to the college scene, you will make another into the world at large. Once you do that, you'll realize how much there is to experience, and how much your job prevents you from doing so.

  • 1
Jul 23, 2022 - 4:16pm
Cedar on Mid, what's your opinion? Comment below:

So travel is one thing I do have some experience with, at least for someone my age. I've been to HK three times, Shanghai a couple times, S. Korea a couple times, was flying across the country on my own by the time I was 15, and been to the Frenchie parts of Canada. Granted, these aren't exactly the most high end places by any means, and I certainly didn't take full advantage of all these places had to offer to begin with, but I did learn that I hate jet lag and red eyes with a passion lol

Jul 23, 2022 - 5:20pm
Sequoia, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Man I remember being this young and naive once (I say that as someone in their mid-20s). And no, that's not an insult -- if anything it's nostalgic as I remember having similar feelings. The truth is, the years before you spend working tend to be the most blissful of your life. Even when you're old, while many peak at contentment around age 60-65 at that point there are often health issues that pop up as well. When you're under 22, you have virtually no responsibilities (trust me, what you think are major responsibilities & issues are truly minor compared to what's ahead) & you have endless optimism about the world and your place within it. 

It really is true what they say that you become jaded as you get older because you begin to notice more of the constraints in life & the problems that pop up that no one else can deal with for you -- you must be the one to figure them out

One of the hardest challenges will be making new friends. Up until this point you've been in total institutions (i.e. school) where everyone is exactly in the same stage of life & you have defined periods where you know you'll spent time with them (i.e. I know I'm going to spend the next 4yrs of my life with Jake and Bobby in the undergraduate business school) & just chill. In the working world, for the first time you're completely split off (some friends will go to NYC, some to DC, some to Boston, etc). Why it's an issue is that you just don't have as much time to spend now making new friends now as you did before. You have way more free time in school / way more events to meet people / way more clubs / etc. As an adult unless you have a sizeable group of friends in your post-grad city, this isn't happening. The other major challenge is, people move sooooooo often in their 20s, you have no idea. You'll start to become buddies with someone from work and then 1yr later they're moving to another city. This has no joke happened to me at least 3 times that I can count. So you constantly need to replenish friends, ALL THE TIME just to keep your friend count flat! And the worst part is, while you can find casual people to hang out with, it's super, super hard to find true friends who you can build lifelong relationships with. I'm an introvert & love having deep, meaningful friendships vs casual one-offs with people I wouldn't talk to again if one of us moved -- but this will be very hard to come by while working. 

There's way more I can write about other challenges but at this point the less you know the better. Please for the love of god -- you have 40+yrs of working ahead at least, enjoy these last 1-2 blissful years of college where you have no real worries. Working life will have its benefits but comes with a ton of baggage that you just won't appreciate until you've been out in the real world for 3-5yrs at least. I would literally kill to go back & re-do college again and appreciate the simplicity of those days, no worries, so many friends all around me, body bounces back no issues (from alc or working out or whatever)...don't underestimate what you have or you'll regret it later. Enjoy these idyllic days and you have plenty of time to figure out all of the rest once you start working 

Jul 24, 2022 - 1:07am
Arroz con Pollo, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I agree with everything you said except going back to redo college. Now, if I knew what I know now back then, then sure, I'd go and do it again. But the fact is I'd probably just do the same shit I did when I was in college if we ran the simulation again without any new knowledge.

Im 24, make six figures, have no debt, own my own car, and have substantial savings. However, I feel that I could and should be so much more accomplished with my life at this point.

The one thing I've realized that has really improved my daily life is that the only person I should be competing with is the me of yesterday. I know several millionaire professional athletes - I used to be better than a few of them. Should I wallow in pity that they make multiples of what I do, or should I acknowledge I didn't do what needed to reach that level and move on?

I've found a lot of motivation and helpful advice from people who were in the military, especially special operations. Yeah, listening to how Kobe practiced several hours a day or how Max Scherzer goes crazy when he trains is cool, but now that I'm older, I have a better understanding of how precious life is. Listening to veterans talk about how they were shot 27 times, still killed the enemy, and then walked to the helicopter for extract (Mike Day) or how they fought in WWII (Audie Murphy's journal is amazing, especially reading it and seeing how humble he is when you've read external stuff about how he went basically Captain America against the Germans) reminds me to quit being a pussy.

This has turned into another ramble of mine, but I'm about to go to bed and felt like typing some stuff. Sure, it would be nice to go back in time and buy options on Tesla like Pelosi did, but I don't have a time machine. All I can do is improve myself each day and hopefully decades from now look back on my life and be proud of what I accomplished.

Jul 24, 2022 - 1:54pm
Sequoia, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Fair enough bro, was having some moments of doubt yesterday so probably came off more pessimistic than I meant. You absolutely have to take charge of your life and actively drive it if you're unsatisfied with something. I've taken stock of all the things I want to change & am working to do so, check back with me by mid-summer next year and I hope I've made good on those goals 

Jul 24, 2022 - 11:51am
Cedar on Mid, what's your opinion? Comment below:

All very helpful points. Your part about making friends definitely hits home. 

I was homeschooled up until I graduated, so I really did not have much of a social life to speak of. I'm grateful for this in a lot of ways. I was able to become my own person without worrying about my peers' opinions. It also helped me to learn how to interact with people who were not in my age range. But at the end of the day it could be quite lonely. Now that I am in college, I am making friends left and right. virtually every time I go on campus I'm hanging out with someone new. I've even met a couple that I could easily see myself keeping in touch with even after school. So the idea of going back to not really having friends stings a bit

Jul 24, 2022 - 6:04am
Arealanalyst34, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This isn't that naive, but might be a little bit. From my experience, those that lead the most interesting lives don't really retire, they just move to a less demanding role and focus on passion projects more. As others mentioned, you don't really understand how much being a cog in the machine sucks and that eventually drives most people to retire. However, if you acquire enough skills in your 20's and 30's and do something significant in your 40s/50s, you might be able to have a 60+ life where you advise those younger than you and work in a capacity where you aren't working for money, but rather to keep things interesting and to feel fulfilled. That said, this isn't the normal situation and I would argue those that do "fake retire" as I'd put it, usually do change their type of work to a significant degree at the retirement age. Just as an example, I know one wealth manager who decided to do VC at 60. Or a banking MD who decided to help run a family office. 

Jul 24, 2022 - 8:03am
MacroJunkie, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It entirely depends on how well your interests line up with your professional career. As you can tell by most of the comments on this thread, many people in finance don't really like what they do. I'm lucky because I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I'd do a lot of what I do for work even if I was unemployed. Obviously, there are parts of my job that sucks, but by and large I really enjoy what I do.

Do I see myself still managing money in my 50s/60s? Probably not. But do I see myself involved in markets in one way or another? Absolutely.

Jul 24, 2022 - 11:38am
Cedar on Mid, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Me: I am in my early 20s and in college and so have little to no experience in the working world. From my position, I do not want to ever retire. To those of you who have been working for years and years, what are your thoughts on retirement? I am curious to know your perspective and learn from it. 

WSO keyboard warriors: Lol you have never worked you don't know anything.

Thanks guys. Extremely helpful

Jul 24, 2022 - 1:00pm
InvestmentSpanker, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It is such a stupid question though.

It's like saying, "I want to live in Seattle until the day I die" and you've never even been there before. How could you know you want to stay in Seattle til the day you die? It's just so fucking stupid 

Jul 24, 2022 - 11:51am
NewIndustryHorizon, what's your opinion? Comment below:

One of my relatives became a multimillionaire after selling his company about 20 years ago. Probably could have retired then and there as I'm sure he has passive income coming in every year through real estate/other investments.

He now runs a lifestyle business with a few of his old cofounders to keep himself busy (used to work 90-100+ hour weeks when he started out, now sounds like 40 hours maybe less). He enjoys mentoring younger hires (interns/fresh graduates who he expects to eventually leave to do their own thing/join a bigger company etc).

Jul 24, 2022 - 3:46pm
Hazolf, what's your opinion? Comment below:

As always, it depends. Some people justify their existence by being useful to society (e.g. lawyers) so the vast majority of them don't retire earlier because they find meaning in their lives by helping clients. Retiring earlier could leave a void in their personality. On the contrary, others decide to retire earlier because their career path was mostly a means to an end - i.e. money - once they have enough savings they will quit and do other things. In the end, retirement doesn't mean fishing 16 hours a day. The majority of those who did well in life and retire earlier focus their time on philanthropy or similar activities that could occupy their day. Therefore the decision between retirement or not varies according to your motivations, interests, and priorities which will also change as you advance in life.

But for the moment, I consider that you have the right mindset. If you are in your 20s and you already plan your career considering WLB, at how many years old you will retire, etc. then you're on the wrong path. When you approach any job or career you should feel that you could do it 24/7/365. If not, reconsider your decision. 

Jul 24, 2022 - 4:38pm
Ozymandia, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Nothing wrong with that attitude as long as you understand what that means.  Kind of shitty to marry and have kids and then ignore them because you're working all the time.

Also, your attitudes will 100% change over time.  And frankly, you will physically change.  It's easy to be 22 and feel great all the time and think the world is a big challenge waiting to be wrestled down.  When you're 72 it may not be as easy to grind out the kinds of days you did fifty years prior.  Maybe working in your 70s involves some half days, involves not staying late at the office, paring back the socializing aspects.  You just don't know.

So, take whatever tack you want now, but understand that it is highly likely that your motivations and capabilities change over time.  I wouldn't blow all my money in my 20s on the expectation that I'll be working up until I die, so having savings is meaningless.

Jul 25, 2022 - 9:58am
Username_TBU, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I wouldn't say naive, I would just say you should re-state by saying as of now, you really enjoy the work and the idea of working a lot. The idea of working and adding value is exciting.

I felt that way while I was in banking (and continued to feel that way for 2 years). Over time, career progression slows down a bit, you start developing interests outside of work, you start to have a little bit of money to enjoy other experiences, doing the same thing gets old after a while, it's corporate / political, you have a family, etc. It's different for everyone. Within a 5 year span I went from really enjoying my 5 days a week to wanting to be in a position to hang it up in my mid-40s to enjoy all of my time and get rid of the mental stress even for the hours when I'm not working.

Also, yes there are people who retire and then go crazy. They never work on developing interests. They never work on who they are. One of the keys is to retire to something, not retire from something.

Jul 25, 2022 - 2:05pm
TaxHavenFTW, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Jul 25, 2022 - 2:09pm
Thomas Pynchon, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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