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  • Writer's pictureKelechukwu “Chu” Oparah


The retirement model of the 1950s is dead, and it isn’t coming back!


Just look at that word for a minute. How does it make you feel? In my practice, the ways people react to the word “retirement” is often eerily similar to the way people react to the question, “Are you ready for the holidays?”

Depending on our experiences, we’ve each developed different expectations and ideas of retirement. Those expectations create the feelings we experience when faced with the word.

I’d like to invite you to take a load off! Free yourself from the word retirement and all its romanticized ideals. Why? Well, the retirement model of the 1950s is dead, and it isn’t coming back. It actually started breaking in the ‘60s, but was still being preached as a reasonable course of action when I was in high school in the ‘90s.

In the free financial literacy masterclass that I offer online, I go into detail about the causes of this silent breakdown of the old retirement model and what you can do about it. For now, I’m going to ask that you trust or at least observe that pensions, Social Security and small nest eggs in the market are not the levers that can move you into a life of travel, dance, philanthropy, service, mentorship, supporting grandkids or building that kit airplane you dreamed about as a kid and then piloting it all over the world.

So, here’s a little freedom from the inevitable panic you may be feeling while reading up to this point. Replace the word “retirement”with the words “work-optional lifestyle.” Retirement means to be put out of service. Retirement is a change of status. It’s a shift of identity, in a lot of ways, to a place of less-defined purpose.

A work-optional lifestyle is stepping into a world of possibilities. It doesn’t happen by going through the motions. You earn a work-optional lifestyle through creating and adhering to a strategy that solidly reinforces your imagined identity. A work-optional lifestyle is a continuation of the identity you built and simply shifts your roles according to the purposes you’ve specified.

Rather than focusing on piling up enough cash to retire, consider focusing on acquiring assets that generate income. When your assets both generate the after-tax income you need to live how you’d like without going to work to earn money, and increase in value ahead of inflation, you’ve done it.

Here’s the twist, most people can’t get started down the road of planning for a work-optional lifestyle because they have not developed the clarity of vision for a preferred future.

How does one hit a target that he or she has not seen? Think of your most significant relationships. Who do you want to be? How would you like to show up in your community? What price tags are associated with your answers?

I find that setting financial goals requires a person to clearly answer two questions. What sort of experiences would you like to be able to access and how often? What sort of influence do you want to have in your community? Try it! Reach out to me on Instagram! I’d love to know what kind of conversations you end up having around the dinner table.


Kelechukwu “Chu” Oparah is a Licensed Financial Professional Serving your Dayton Community. For more content, Chu is on Instagram @chuoparah.

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