As the nature of work itself changes, I think we have to rethink what things like retirement even mean. When you don’t work for one employer your entire career, it’s harder to have a sudden clean break from “working life” to “retired life”. I’m still in my early 30’s, and I doubt my generation is going to get retirement parties and gold watches.
I’m increasingly worried that a highly automated economy is going to leave us all with a lot more time on our hands, and most of us have no idea what to do with it.
There’s a great opportunity for us all to cultivate multiple areas of interest, some that earn income and others that don’t. Retirement may just become a steady transition from less active income earning, but there are plenty of things to still invest time and energy in. Especially if we put that attention back into our communities, you can easily imagine a future where “retirees” help supplement grade school and university education with their real-world experience. Or local government projects being supplemented by rotating citizen advisory panels made up of experts from all sorts of areas.
In the immediate future, there’s a lot to worry about. I don’t think most people are planning for retirement, financially or philosophically. But in the long-term, changing the definition and goals of retirement could actually be good for our communities and each of us as individuals.