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The Mental Trap of Retirement?

While conventional wisdom has the general population afraid of the needs of retirement, the major challenge is whether retirement really exists in a knowledge economy. In the industrial revolution, physical work has its limitations. Retirement makes sense as the human body’s physical abilities diminish and the output of one’s muscles diminishes with age (Jacques, 1996). Yet, in a knowledge economy, the human brain is the muscle for output (Drucker, 1993; Harvard business review on knowledge management, 1998). Does it truly retire? According to bioneurological studies, the human brain is capable of learning throughout one’s life span (Ormrod, 2006).  Imagine a life where people work within their passions and love what they do. As a result of working smarter, they decrease the amount of time spent at work, while increasing the output and income. By the time you reach the 50’s, you can be making just as much if not more by working 5-10 hours per week. Here’s an even more challenging thought – how about working 5-10 hours by choice by the time you get into their 40’s? Isn’t it time to debunk an old paradigm of retirement? Don’t let your government or workplace tell you when to retire. More important, distribute hours of one’s day based on one’s core value system (ie. More time for family/friends/hobbies)?


A synthesis of many theories such as systems thinking (Checkland, 1999), knowledge creation spiral (Sun, 2007) and Super’s theory of occupational development (Cavanaugh & Blanchard-Fields, 2006) could evolve around a constant pursuit of working smarter through self awareness and development.  Work can and should be a blissful activity embrace by individual who are congruent with their occupations. Learn how you can maximize your output and reduce the hours worked by working smarter through multiple intelligences. Don’t wait until you’re too old to enjoy the many gifts of complete control over your time. 



Cavanaugh, J. C., & Blanchard-Fields, F. (2006). Adult development and aging (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning. 

Checkland, P. (1999). Systems thinking, systems practice: A 30 year retrospective. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 

Drucker, P. F. (1993). Post-capitalist society. Oxford: Butterworth Heonemann.

Harvard business review on knowledge management. (1998). Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Jacques, R. (1996). Manufacturing the employee: Management knowledge from the 19th to 21st centuries. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. 

Ormrod, J. E. (2006). Educational psychology: Developing learners (5 th ed.). Upper Saddle River , NJ : Prentice Hall. 

Sun, T. (2007, July). Survival Tactics: Top 11 behaviors of successful entrepreneurs. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.

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