Why You Don't Need To Retire

Photo by Michael Pateman

Photo by Michael Pateman

"In the US, a traditional career is designed as a marathon, with the finish line at age 65. After a 40-year grind, we’re expected to stop working and revel in a life of idle, stress-free days funded by hard-earned pension plans.

But not everyone wants to stop: For the few who’ve found a way to blur that proverbial work-life dichotomy, retirement is more dead end than welcome repose.

'To work at things that are central to your life and your perception of yourself, why would you want to retire from that? I want to die at my desk,' says legendary designer Milton Glaser in a new book Twenty Over Eighty: Conversations on a Lifetime in Architecture and Design (out May 24). When authors Aileen Kwun and Bryn Smith ask the prolific 86-year-old what he considers his greatest achievement, Glaser answers: 'Staying alive and continuing to work.'

If you don’t know the Brooklyn-born designer and 2009 National Medal of Arts recipient, you know his work. Glaser is the creative mind behind many enduring logos, books, and magazines, including the I ♥ NY emblem, the DC Comics logo, the 48-year old bi-weekly magazine, New York and an iconic 1966 Bob Dylan poster which now in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian‘s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.

But not all work is physical labor, and many seniors can’t stand the thought of spending their remaining healthy years—and hard-earned wisdom—idling in leisure parks, cruises and retirement communities. As a counterpoint to our contemporary era’s fixation on prodigies, PR-savvy millennial upstarts and '30-under-30s,' the 20 sharp and accomplished octogenarians (and some nonagenarians) profiled inTwenty Over Eighty are living testament of how to carve out joyful, sustainable career paths—and avoid burning out too early.

Chwast started drawing at age seven, and, like Glaser and Thompson, shows no signs of hanging up his drawing pens. 'I don’t understand retiring. I don’t know what I’d do. I don’t play golf. I have to sit at a drawing table or else it’s a wasted day,' he recently told Fast Company." - Anne Quito via Quartz