Mike Stevenson / 27/02/2015/ No Comments

Bugger Retirement – my work has just begun

I don’t creak, moan or groan, I still plan to wed and have no wish to retire. I feel more enthusiastic and energised about the future than I did at 21. Anti-intuitive? Yes, but true. Having accumulated so much hard-earned experience it would be an utter folly to shrink into the shadows. Yet, just when I have the most to offer I am reminded daily of my creeping age – I am part of a demographic time bomb. The doctor greets any ailment with the words “You’re not getting any younger.” And, on hearing that I am single, people say: “So you never married.” I am somehow expected to look back rather than forward, slow down, allow nature to take its course and talk of pensions and care. Well I’ve got two words for those that think my best days are behind me. Bugger off.

Starting afresh

I may be on the cusp of 65 but, I am also starting a new journey that I believe will be my most exciting and productive yet. Diana Nyad was 64 when she swam from Cuba to the shores of Florida. Tony Bennett is going strong at 88, and gaining new younger fans. Business people follow 84-year-old Warren Buffet’s every move with intense interest while David Attenborough’s breathlessness is caused by the raw excitement of wildlife – not some pulmonary disorder.

Best is to come

My best days are yet to come and my ambitions grow ever more audacious with each passing year. If my life has taught me one thing above all others it is that anything is achievable with vision, determination and hard work. A friend of long-standing told me recently he doesn’t want to change the world. But retains his right for vociferous complaint. That is so far from my view. When I look at a small child making their first faltering steps in the world, I simply cannot abandon my responsibility to do all I can to ensure that little bundle of almost limitless potential grows up in a world abundant with opportunity – not just for those born into wealth. While banks try to rediscover their soul and greed remains celebrated and rewarded – there is much to do.

Older people as an economic driver

The UK Government now realises that if we focus on employment among the over 50s we will generate around £50 Billion for the economy. What a startling revelation! I could have told them that when I was 21 years old – except I didn’t have the confident voice I have now. In fact, apply that argument across the whole working age population and you come to the same conclusion. We are designed to be productive and are at our best when we feel significant and valued. I have contributed National Insurance for almost 50 years and paid tax (to the Common Good) for the same period. If I were to retire anything I get from the state is now called a benefit. I take exception to that and so do most people in their so-called latter years.

Somewhere to go and something to do
The Scottish Government’s Active and Healthy Ageing Strategy reports that what people in later years want more than anything is “Somewhere to go and something to do” Should that surprise us? Of course not! Isn’t that what we want when we are 18, 35 and 45? What we don’t want is to be persistently referred to in terms of care and pensions I have retained something of the child within me and see possibilities all around. I have worked hard to keep that amid the constant drone of cynicism. . It would have been so easy to follow the script and believe that when I turned 60 I had entered a period of terminal decline. Let’s tear-up the rulebook and put all that accumulated wisdom and experience to productive use. Over 50s and under 18s make a formidable combination – let’s join forces and make the world a better place.

Meanwhile, if someone asks me for my retirement plans I might just bite his or her head off.

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