Posts Tagged ‘Retirement’

On being 65!

February 23, 2013

If I’d been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door,
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I’m sixty-four?

I was 65 last Sunday and still sometimes go out till quarter to three. But I carry a key.

I am now officially “past-it” and this is wonderful. Nothing of earth-shattering significance is any longer expected of me. Anything I can manage to do now makes me an over-achiever.

People ask whether I have “retired” and here in Sweden I am asked if I am a “pensioner”, but I never know how to reply correctly. A “pensioner” is used here as a kind of a label which I find less than flattering. While I have activated some “pensions” as sources of income, I take on consultancy assignments and lecture and write and that also generates some income.  So, yes I have stopped being an “employee” but  no – I have not retired from life  – yet!. I don’t mind if strangers offer me a seat in crowded places!  I don’t mind being called “uncle” when I am visiting India but I’m still getting used to being addressed as “the old man” or as “Grandfather”. I am expected to be opinionated – which I was anyway. My natural arrogance is less offensive or perhaps I have mellowed and have lost some of my cutting edge. I am not dishevelled but I don’t worry much about how I look any more or if my colour combinations are bizarre. I only need to – or wish to – wear a tie once or twice a month. I can even get away with wearing my old shoe-string ties from the 60’s or broad flowered ties from the 70’s. If I could have gotten into some of my old bell-bottomed trousers I would have (and I don’t know why I am still preserving them). I get reminders about influenza vaccinations but they don’t convince me. I get diabetes diets sent to me by post and e-mail but they don’t offer anything better than what common sense tells me. I get special health insurance offers but they are just junk-mail. Investment opportunities for “seniors” come through tele-marketeers or drop through the letter box but I suspect that they use “senior” as a euphemism for “senile”.

Back in my youth when I turned 60 my son – very dispassionately – said to me, “You studied for 20 years , worked for 40 and you have 20 years left. Why would you want to do anything you did not want to?”. At that time I was deciding whether to continue working for a large multi-national or to do my own thing. With the question formulated as my son did, the answer became a “no-brainer”. Well I have been doing what I wanted to since then. Now I have 15 years to go and don’t intend to do anything I don’t want to. I may be past-it but the list of things I want to do – and can do – keeps expanding. Fifteen years won’t come close to being long enough to get through the entire list so I will have to make priorities. Paradoxically, I am in no rush though.

I wrote my first book a couple of years ago and 3 more are burgeoning in my head. I want to get at least a couple of these written and published. I have idle thoughts about combining onions and red chillies with management theory. It will have to be a cookery book on odd numbered pages and management analogies on even numbered pages! That will take some doing and I have no idea  – yet – of how to make it work. I must still organise my books and establish my “library”. I have still to be fully converted to Kindle. Over the years I have visited some 100 countries while “on business” but now I want to see some of those places without the constraints of having “business” to do. I want to retrace my father’s steps in 1942 when he journeyed 3000 miles to freedom and that is a major project spanning 6 countries which may take a year or so to set up. I want to continue lecturing and especially to young graduates as long as I can still maintain relevance and connect with them. I want to continue holding workshops and seminars for managers as long as I can stay abreast of what is happening in industry and I can add value. I want to drive slowly across what was once called Eastern Europe but I have no desire to sacrifice comfort while doing so. I want to go on a leisurely safari in South Africa. I would like to cruise to the Galapagos and Easter Island. I would like to participate – for a day or two – in an archaeological dig. I would like to truly find a fossil in the field (and not from a museum shop).

I don’t believe in catastrophe theories. Generations to come will solve their own problems far more effectively than us trying to anticipate and eliminate their challenges. The world is far from perfect. But more people are being fed and clothed then ever before in the history of humanity. The glass is more than half-full.

To be without the burden of the expectations of others is a luxury and being 65 looks like fun!

The world is lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep
and miles to go before I sleep

(apologies to Robert Frost)

A retirement age of 78 will be needed in Norway for children born today

January 23, 2013

Increasing lifespans are real and the period during which we can be productive is increasing and what follows is inevitable. At the present rate of longevity increasing by about 3 months every year, by 2500 most people will live to be 200. Considering that world population is likely to be falling slowly after 2100 it seems not unconnected that any consequent decrease in human economic activity will be (will have to be) compensated for by people having a longer productive life.

A year ago a trial balloon was sent up by the Swedish Prime Minister when he imagined a retirement age of 70 rather than the current 65. Now a suggestion that retirement age will have to be increased to 78 has been floated in Norway. The necessary debate is starting but the result is not in doubt – only the timing is.

But before not too long the  human condition of “study for 20 work for 40 and live to 80”  which probably applies to me will change to “study for 25, work for 50 and live to 100” and will apply to my children. And probably within another 200 years it would have become “study for 40, work for 80 and live to 160”.

Svenska Dagbladet:

Work until you’re 78. It could become necessary for Norwegians born today if the financial burden on the productive section of the population is not to become too large. The calculation and the challenge is from the Norwegian business newspaper Dagens Industry and has created a heated debate in Norway.

Life expectancy is on the rise in both Sweden and Norway. It will force today’s young people to work longer than today. But to retire at 78 years of age is not what many are convinced about.  Sweden had a similar debate when Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt spoke of 75 years as an appropriate retirement age.

In Norway, the suggestion is that 78 years is the appropriate age but Professor Hilde Björnland has doubts: “ The calculation is interesting because it shows the increased pension obligations we face. It is not enough to work up to age 67 if we are to cope with the coming demographic challenges”. But, she says, there is a difference between a long life and increasing mental and physical health. It is uncertain whether we can work much longer than 65-70 years even though we live longer. It depends on how the jobs look like in the future, it depends on how the tasks are suited to us as we get older. Today, only 2.3 percent of the Norwegian population work between 67 and 74 years. After 74 years, it is so small that it is not measurable by the Norwegian Central Statistical Office.

Those who want to raise the retirement age to 78 years at Den Norske Bank believe in any case that today’s young people must be prepared to work much longer than their parents’ generation did. But to get people to work more years in a country that has huge oil revenues and would like to convert income to more leisure time will not be easy. … 


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