A colleague recently described to me a professional meeting he attended for an industry that’s experiencing tremendous market pressures due to changes in technology. He characterized the attitudes of many old-school, late-career executives (who have been living in denial of the fundamental challenges) as “I just hope I can prop things up and keep them running for another 5 years so I can retire.”
Using retirement as an excuse for ignoring a challenge to your business is bad stewardship. If you’re in that kind of industry, you ought to either work to revive and/or redirect it (until the day you retire for the right reasons), or just be honest and quit now. It’s one thing to come to the end of your working career and retire because it’s time for you personally to do so. Industries change and die, and those kinds of transitions are normal too (though traumatic): maybe you need to acknowledge that and start moving your company to whatever comes next. But if you work for a company with customers, assets, and shareholders, you owe it to them to do the best you can with what’s been entrusted to you. Riding the train up to a washed out bridge, knowing that you can jump off at the last minute (even though all the other passengers are going down) is just plain irresponsible.