What If my plan for retirement is "never retire"?

"I know I'm supposed to be thinking about how to retire early and stop working, but what if I really love what I do? Am I some sort of a sucker for thinking retirement might not be for me? Have I just been working so long that I forgot how to do anything else?"

December 7th, 2022   |    By: Wil Schroter; Ryan Rutan

These are all valid questions, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer. For some people, retirement makes perfect sense — especially if you don't enjoy your job or feel like it's not fulfilling your needs. But for others, early retirement isn't necessarily the best choice.

If you love what you do and it fulfills you, then why stop? Continuing to work can give you a sense of purpose and accomplishment. And if you're passionate about what you do, continuing to work can keep you engaged and active in life.

I want to work for 100 years — if I'm lucky.

That's right, I'm about to spit in the face of every tired retirement trope that says we're supposed to long for retirement, to scrimp and scrape and accumulate enough money to have financial independence for the rest of life.

When I watch those commercials during football games that show people that really aren't that much older than me anymore "planning for retirement" I don't envy them, they actually scare me. I don't want to be put out to pasture, I want to keep leveling up.

Now I'm not pretending for a second a lot of people are going to share my passion here. My dad was a contractor and spent decades carrying heavy stuff with a bad back and swollen knees. By the time he was 40 he was begging for retirement. I get that.

But most Founders aren't breaking their backs physically anymore, it's a thing of the past, and we live in a day and age where many of us can extend our careers indefinitely. So why would I want to stop that?

One of the great things about being an entrepreneur is that you can constantly be learning and growing, while still enjoying the benefits of seniority in terms of experience and wisdom. As long as I'm healthy, my mind sharp, and motivated, why would I ever want to quit?

Plus, my long-term goal of creating something really big and meaningful can only be done over the course of many decades. And that's a timeline I'm happy to accept.

So yeah, I want to work for 100 years — if I'm lucky. Let's see where this journey takes us!

Social security aside, what if there isn't a retirement plan? When it comes to the career of a founder, it's more than a job.

Is there really a retirement age if we love what we do?

Although I get burnt out helping Founders from time to time, there's nothing else I'd rather be doing. I have a ton of hobbies, but none of them fulfill the life purpose that creating more Founders does.

Picture what you absolutely love doing most, and now picture someone telling you that you should spend every ounce of energy to stop doing that. You'd think they were insane!

What's broken isn't our passion for retirement, it's how we're aligning our careers in the first place.

If all we can think about is no longer working, are we really doing what we're supposed to be doing? And if not, is it impossible to think that can't change over time? Why can't our goal be to convert our passions into our long-term careers?

Of course, it's not all sunshine and rainbows. It takes a ton of hard work to become an expert in something, and there are always sacrifices to be made along the way.

But, if you're passionate enough about something and give it everything you have — from endless nights of studying to long days of grinding out projects — then retirement can just be a small piece of the puzzle.

And that's the beauty of it: if you're doing something you love, retirement age isn't necessarily a factor. You might not want to stop working no matter how old you get — and that's ok!

It all boils down to using your passion as motivation for success so that you can continue doing what you love for as long as possible. So don't limit your retirement dreams just yet — with the right alignment, you may never want to retire!

One final note: retirement is important to consider. It's wise to think about your future and have a plan in place for when the time comes.

But, don't let it be some sort of looming end-all-be-all that you must reach at a certain age — instead, use it as motivation to create something greater than yourself and make your mark on the world. That's a retirement worth striving for!

So remember, if you're passionate enough about something, don't let your age define how much longer you can work — instead, use it to fuel your motivation and create something amazing while you still have time. Then maybe retirement won't be a worry at all.

Passionate founders care more about the money, it's about the company, the career, and the livelihood that made them start this journey in the beginning.

Aligning Work with Passion, not financial security.

The only reason I want to work forever is that I've aligned my work with my passion. I'm not lucky, I'm intentional. I've built 8 other companies before this that were totally misaligned with my passion and I couldn't wait to stop working on them.

It took me a long time to realize this. When we created Startups.com I had a single goal in mind — to start working on whatever I was going to do for the rest of my life today, not next year, not next decade.

It wasn't a "business idea" it was a North Star. I knew that I wanted to help Founders for the rest of my life, so I started with that. I had no idea the business itself would be what Startups.com is today. But that alignment is what makes me want to work for 100 years.

I haven't chosen to work forever because I need the money. I'm financially secure and have enough resources to do whatever I want in life, whenever I want.

But, what really fulfills me is working on something that aligns with my passion. That's why I continue to show up each day, even after 25 years of doing this.

There is an old saying that goes "find something you love to do and you'll never have to work a day in your life." That's how I feel about my own journey.

I'm passionate about what I do and it doesn't feel like work. It feels like purposeful play. And that keeps me going, even when the going gets tough.

But it all comes down to aligning with your passion and purpose. I believe that if you find something that truly lights you up, you'll be able to work forever — and want to. That's the secret to a life of fulfillment and joy. Find a passion, and focus on it for our whole lives.

So, if there was one thing I could tell someone looking to create a life of lasting fulfillment, it would be to find their alignment and never give up on it.

That is the key to working forever.

The career of a founder is about passion, hustle, and persistence. Sometimes that can mean working your whole life long, do you have what it takes?

What are the benefits of being passionate about work?

Passion for work benefits both your personal and professional development and helps your business grow. Studies indicate that passion-driven people achieve higher organizational status and greater satisfaction whether they are the founder or just work at the company.

Aside from feeling a higher level of satisfaction at work, people who are passionate about their work tend to sustain their work and focus longer.

When you love working, you have the gift of drive and increased creativity. You are constantly seeking new ways to improve what you're working on, and this can help your business flourish.

Passion brings purpose and pride.

Being passionate about work brings with it a sense of purpose and pride, which can often lead to improved motivation and productivity. With greater passion, you may find yourself driven to achieve goals faster while using fewer resources in the process.

Passion for work can be a great motivator to make you reach higher and strive for success.

Passion and Resilience go hand in hand.

Passionate people also tend to be more resilient, as they are able to keep going even when the going gets tough. Having passion in your job provides a source of motivation that helps you push through difficult times with enthusiasm.

This allows you to remain focused and keep moving forward, even when the going gets tough.

Overall, having a passion for work brings with it many benefits, both personally and professionally. It can help you stay motivated to reach your goals and take on any challenge that comes your way.

With increased confidence and commitment, you can make your business thrive. It is important to remember that your passion should always be balanced with practicality and dedication. That way, you can make sure to stay on track and get the most out of your work.

The benefits are personal and professional.

By cultivating a strong sense of passion for work, you can find greater satisfaction in what you do and see improvements in both your personal life and professional career.

Sure, you can get a job at any company, but when you're a founder, it's the commitment to the career that sets us apart.

Level Up Forever

I've been a Founder for 30 years. In that time I've had so many opportunities to learn and level up. Now imagine what kind of experience and capabilities I'll have 30 years from now, or 30 years after that, at which time I'll either be long dead or a total cyborg.

Expand your thinking

When we think about our careers in terms of 50, 75, or 100 years, each year getting better and better at what we do, our perspective totally changes.

We think of every year as a building block toward something greater. We don't really have any incentive to stop building because every year compounds with quality.

So yeah, I want to work for 100 years on something I love that gets better every year. Wouldn't you want to?

There are so many opportunities for us to level up. We can look at our work and see how we can improve on it. We can draw upon our experience, but also seek out mentors, courses, books, and other resources that can help us learn more than what we already know.

Reinvent and repackage, don't restart.

We don't have to think of our careers in terms of doing one thing forever. If we focus on the long-term, and on the continued development of our skillset to ensure that we are always able to stay ahead of the curve and remain relevant.

If we routinely add to both our experiences and our knowledge, all that is required to remain relevant is to repackage it on occasion so that it takes advantage of our exponential growth AND what is helpful to the current population we want help, in my case, Startup Founders.

The idea behind leveling up forever is to create a mindset shift where you constantly look for ways to develop your skillset, not just to get better at what you do today, but also to anticipate and prepare for the future.

This way you can stay ahead of the curve and remain relevant in an ever-evolving world. Not only will this give you a better chance of success, it'll also make life much more rewarding and fun!

Our lives are defined by our past and present. What we've done and what we do will directly determine what we will be doing in the future.

Do things that matter.

Of course, wanting to work forever and aligning work with passion becomes that much easier when we choose to do meaningful work.

This requires more than just thinking about things are passionate about - we have to invest in both the knowledge and skills it takes to accomplish purposeful work, but we also have to be willing to invest our time, money, and energy into that work.

Often, one of the hardest steps is simply being patient enough to find the work that ends up being meaningful to us. This is an investment in itself.

Once we’ve chosen a meaningful career, it’s important to maintain an attitude of learning and growth. Not only does this help to ensure that the work continues to be meaningful over time, but it also helps to keep us engaged in the process and feeling fulfilled by our accomplishments.

No matter how tedious or dull a task might seem, staying focused on the end goal and looking for ways to improve can help to keep us motivated.

Research suggests that meaningful work often involves having a sense of purpose and connection with others.

This means not only working towards something greater than oneself but also making an effort to collaborate with colleagues or engage in activities outside of work where we can meet other people and build meaningful relationships.

Leaning on social security is an idea of the past. We are beyond the point of retirement when we are passionate about building our dream in any industry.

More than making a living; making a life worth living.

In the end, work should be about more than just making a living — it should allow us to spend time in alignment with our passions and offer us a sense of purpose.

Investing in work that fulfills a deeper meaning is not only fulfilling on a personal level, but it can also create lasting value for both ourselves and our communities.

Family, friends, and relationships are invaluable; so make sure to reserve time for those connections in life. When you marry your passions with meaningful work - that is when the real magic happens!

Everyone deserves an opportunity to find a career that sparks their interest and gives them a sense of purpose, not just a job. With hard work and dedication, anyone can create a life worth living, not just a bank account balance. Pure win-win.

So, take the time to invest in yourself and find what sparks your passion. Focus on finding meaningful work that offers you personal fulfillment, and embrace the opportunity to make a life worth living. With determination and hard work, anything is possible! Including never feeling pressure to retire at an arbitrary point in our lives where we are still able to contribute to the world. Once we find passion, and align it with our career,

Many of us, even most of us will still chase retirement. But for those who have reached a point in their lives where they begin to align passion and career, one may find they are already as retired as they want to be.

Regardless of how many people continue to seek retirement, as I'm writing this, I'm sincerely hoping that you are passionate about all aspects of your life, from career to family, where you live and the folks you hang out with. We only get one shot at writing our story - I guess we should make it a good one!

In Case You Missed It 

How Do I Design My Startup Around My Life? There’s very little preventing us from designing our startups around our life goals. It starts with us being very clear about what we want to achieve and then taking clear, small steps toward those outcomes.

If We Want Power, Create Power (podcast) A lot of us are used to hearing people telling us what we should and shouldn’t do, what we can and cannot achieve just because these people have tried it or have been in a similar situation. What they don’t realize though is what works for them may not work for you, and vice versa.

How We Built an 8-Figure Business by Saying “No” Does "No" mean never? Not exactly. Let's discuss why saying "No" is just as much discipline as it is a luxury, how to build your confidence in saying "No", and when saying "No" can actually grow your business.

About the Authors

Wil Schroter

Wil Schroter is the Founder + CEO @ Startups.com, a startup platform that includes BizplanClarity, Fundable, Launchrock, and Zirtual. He started his first company at age 19 which grew to over $700 million in billings within 5 years (despite his involvement). After that he launched 8 more companies, the last 3 venture backed, to refine his learning of what not to do. He's a seasoned expert at starting companies and a total amateur at everything else.

Ryan Rutan

Founding Partner @ Startups.com platform | Clarity.fm, Launchrock, Fundable, Zirtual, and Co-Host of The Startup Therapy Podcast. Ryan has 15 years of experience as a Founder, Advisor, Mentor, and Investor — the quintessential startup guerrilla. He works with 100's of the best startups every year on everything from ideation, idea validation, early marketing traction, customer acquisition to fundraising, scaling, and operations.

Discuss this Article

Unlock Startups Unlimited

Access 20,000+ Startup Experts, 650+ masterclass videos, 1,000+ in-depth guides, and all the software tools you need to launch and grow quickly.

Already a member? Sign in

Copyright © 2023 Startups.com LLC. All rights reserved.