Rustproof Your Retirement

gauguin

This is the 32nd in a collection of newspaper ads written by Harry Gray, then CEO of United Technologies, that appeared in the Wall Street Journal from the late 1970s through the early 1980s. Here is the text from that ad.

Retirement doesn’t have to be a red light.
It can be a green light.
Othmar Ammann would agree.
After he “retired” at age 60, he designed, among other things, the Connecticut and New Jersey Turnpikes; the Pittsburgh Civic Arena; Dulles Airport; the Throgs Neck Bridge; and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.
Paul Gauguin “retired” as a successful stockbroker and became a world-famous artist. 
Heinrich Schliemann “retired” from business to look for Homer’s legendary city of Troy. He found it.
After Churchill made his mark as a world statesman, he picked up his pen and won the Nobel Prize for Literature at age 79.
Don’t just go fishing when you retire.
Go hunting.
Hunt for the chance to do what you’ve always wanted to do.
Then go do it!


I enjoy hearing stories about people who have gone on to successful “second” careers. Some modern day examples would include Bill Gates, Jimmy Carter, Jack Nicklaus, and Al Gore.

There’s even an organization, Encore.org, that focuses on “building a movement to tap the skills and experience of those in midlife and beyond to improve communities and the world.” As part of its mission, Encore.org awards the Purpose Prize, “the nation’s pre-eminent large-scale investment in people over 60 who are combining their passion and experience for social good”. NPR has called the award “A kind of MacArthur ‘genius award’ for retirees.

And as our average life span increases, I imagine that there will be many more people pursuing second careers.

However, I do disagree with one line from the ad above: “Don’t just go fishing when you retire.” If that’s what you want to do when you retire, then go do it. It’s your life, don’t live someone else’s version of what they think your life should be like.

Some people have a need to keep working, even after they “retire”. So it’s great to see such people working on global health issues, building houses for the poor, designing golf courses, or fighting climate change.

But many others feel they have had a productive life and are ready to spend their retirement relaxing and pursuing their ambitions. So it’s great to see such people reading books, traveling the world, committing to a healthier life style, or going fishing.

There’s no one right path, the key is to find what matters to you.

Then once you “retire”, you can devote your energies to pursuing what matters.

May you live long, and perhaps win the Prosper Prize…

*Painting: Palm Trees at Martinique by Gauguin

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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