Rising Pro

Young Pros: Think 3 Ps Before Retirement

“I can’t wait to be retired.”

Why can't I do this everyday?
Why can’t I do this everyday? 

Only pros in their 50s and 60s utter those words, right?


A lot of my peers in their 20s and 30s are already sick of working before their careers have even really kicked off. Even though I’m sure many of them say it jokingly after a long week, I’ll admit I’ve thought about it myself.

But why?

You may think young pros say this because they want to sleep in, travel whenever they feel like it and workout in the middle of the day. While that does sound nice, I think it’s something more.

I think young pros have a hard time seeing past paying their dues and imagining the success they’ll achieve on the way to retirement.

Instead, all they can think about is how hard the work is now and how annoying it is to take orders all the time. They don’t think about what comes after the seemingly endless to-do lists; when they are the boss and have the chance to make a bigger impact on others.

But no one under 50 should be fantasizing about retirement, because there’s so much good stuff in between paying your dues and playing golf all day.

So how do you survive the next 30-40 years? Follow the three Ps: Project, Plan and Progress.

  1. Project: If you’re focusing all your energy on the hard work you’re doing now; stop. Save some of it for the future. Project yourself into the next few years, where you’re in the role you want. Image yourself writing the strategy, taking on more responsibility and inspiring others. It will help get you through the moments where you can’t bare to perform one more mundane task.
  2. Plan: After you image yourself in your ideal role, make a plan to get there. Does that mean asking for more responsibility, shadowing colleagues or seeking regular feedback and guidance from a mentor? Whatever it is, write, rewrite and follow a plan throughout your career to help keep you on track so you stay focused, especially when it feels like there’s no end to your inbox.
  3. Progress: After you picture yourself in your dream role and make a plan to get there; never stop until you get it. Not just until you’re in your next role, but also the role after that, and after that. Keep rising until your work is nearly done and your impact has been made. Then you can start thinking about cashing in your 401(k).

While retiring now sounds nice, I bet most of those who are out of the workforce have something to show for it. From what I hear, nothing’s better than being on vacation forever after many amazing successes along the way.

Why do you think young pros are already thinking about retirement?

3 thoughts to “Young Pros: Think 3 Ps Before Retirement”

  1. Another thought provoking blog. To all those young “pros'” out there, Be careful what you wish for if you are dreaming about retirement in your 20s. Are you kidding me? I’m planning on retirement at the end of the year but after nearly 43 years on the same job and I’m still having second thoughts because I love what I do. It seems with the more years of experience you gain the more you have to give back and the more valuable you become. Besides everyone knows, retirement is over rated even if you have all the money in the world. Yes, you can decide to drop out and vacation the rest of your life or you can do something meaningful and rewarding. I always say, “It’s not about how little you can do to get by but how much you can do to make a difference”. Hang in there. I promise no matter how discouraged you become on the job you always have the ability to make change, including changing jobs, remembering any negative experience is a learning and growing experience.

  2. I would add two more P’s – Potential and Put some away. Potential – When I look back on my work life, there were a number of times I had the potential to go in different directions. Even with a plan in place, I took advantage of the Potential and found new and exciting areas to work. These options gave me a challenge and new opportunities. Sometimes I recognized it just wasn’t for me, but at least I considered it and never felt it was an opportunity missed. Put some away – when you are ready to “rebalance” how your time is spent, the only income you can rely on is what you put away while you are working.
    If you are a young Pro now and thinking your job is hard and are not clear on the future – welcome to the real world! I sometimes think my career plan was more Yogi Berra “when you get to a fork in the road – take it” than a designed career path and well executed plan. To me it is not so much is the job hard, but “do you like what you are doing?” and “how will what you are doing now, get you to your next step?”. If you don’t like what you are doing now, what can you do to change it? If you can’t change it, how does this position add to your next step? If it doesn’t add to your next step – GET OUT. You aren’t doing anyone, any good by staying in a place where you are not “getting something out of what you are doing”.

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