Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara died last month in Tokyo at the age of 105. Over more than a century of life, Hinohara did many things, including laying the groundwork for modern medicine in Japan and the country's reputation for longevity. He published over 150 books after turning 75 and continued to see patients until just a few months before his death.
But one thing he never did, or likely ever even considered, was to retire.
"There is no need to ever retire, but if one must, it should be a lot later than 65," Hinohara said in the Japan Times in 2009.
But don't take the advice of just one centenarian. Science also backs up the notion that we may start to die the moment we give up work or pursuing whatever our purpose or passions may be.
As author Marshall Goldsmith puts it, we all want time to travel and relax, but is that really the key to fulfillment?
"I'm gonna warn you, it gets old," he says. "You need to do something that is gonna make you happy and you need to do something that is meaningful for you and you need to make sure that you do both."
If you're looking forward to retiring, it might be time to consider why. Is it because you're burned out on your current career? Maybe it's time for a change now. Why wait for some arbitrary date in the future to start getting more out of life?
Don't think you can make a living doing whatever it is you're truly passionate about? Have you really tried? Maybe it's time to get that side hustle going now. Again, why wait?
The thing is that life doesn't start when you retire. It's happening all the time, and if you're just looking forward to days of leisure in the future, you're missing it all in the present, which is where we actually live.
What's worse, you may be missing your true calling.
"Until one is 60 years old, it is easy to work for one's family and to achieve one's goals," Hinohara said. "But in our later years, we should strive to contribute to society. Since the age of 65, I have worked as a volunteer. I still put in 18 hours seven days a week and love every minute of it."
Dr. Hinohara's life story suggests that removing the r-word from your vocabulary could help extend your life. There's no guarantee that his approach will mean as long a life for you, but it certainly gives you better odds of a life well-lived.