This belief system implies that a life without challenges, effort, or hard work is the ideal retirement, but this couldn't be further from the truth. While it's understandable to want a break from a demanding career, the Retirement Myth sets the bar too low, leading retirees to fall far short of their full potential.
Retirement is a time when people have the most time, money, and ability to embark on important, fulfilling, and life-changing pursuits, yet many retirees end up doing very little. The Retirement Myth is cruel because it tells people that doing less and pulling back is the way to achieve joy, but this is not always true. In fact, many people feel the best and most fulfilled when they are actively pursuing a big goal or undertaking a challenging project.
The Retirement Myth equates retirement with relaxation and implies that retirement causes relaxation. However, relaxation is not a state of being; it's a recovery that occurs after effort. Without effort, relaxation can lead to malaise. It's more beneficial to think of relaxation as a form of recovery that occurs after exertion. A two-week vacation may be enjoyable because it's a temporary reprieve from the demands of work, but it's not a sustainable way of life.
People who have spent their entire lives striving and accomplishing, who have accumulated 40 years of wisdom and experience, and who have more time and money than ever before, are told that the best thing they can do in retirement is to do less. This goes against what psychologists recommend for people who are depressed. Instead of stepping back and doing less, they advise people to exercise, get outside, spend time with family and friends, start a new hobby, do something scary, set goals, and simply do more.
Retirement should be a time to pursue fulfilling and life-changing pursuits, not a time to simply relax and do nothing. While relaxation is an important part of retirement, it should be viewed as a form of recovery that occurs after exertion, not the ultimate goal. Retirees have the wisdom, experience, time, and money to make a difference in the world, and they shouldn't waste this opportunity by simply doing less.