J.D. at Get Rich Slowly has a very interesting post regarding how one defines retirement. It came up when someone suggested to him that, having given up being a box salesman to become a blogger and writer, he has, in effect, already retired.
As often is the case, the comments are every bit as interesting as the initial post.
I was struck by the condescending tone permeating the comments, that if one chooses to do nothing productive during retirement beyond watching TV, then retirement is somehow "unsuccessful."
The whole point of retirement, it seems to me, is the freedom to do whatever one wants (within the confines of one's finances and common civility). That includes the freedom to become intimately familiar with "The Price is Right" and "Dr. Phil."
But what really fascinated me were all the younger folks commenting on when and how they wanted to retire.
I don't know that I thought much about retirement until I hit my fifties. Part of this is because I had children at home well into my fifties. I had all I could do to simply survive their adolescences.
It's only been in the last five years that I've seriously considered at what age I wanted to retire, and only during the last three that I've made a concerted effort to get my retirement finances in order.
I don't think a change of career is the same as retirement. But neither do I think that retirement means I'll completely stop working in my field. I do plan to volunteer, and perhaps even work for pay on a very part-time schedule.
One commenter on J.D.'s blog says retirement is when one stops saving and starts spending. That makes sense to me, though saving is becoming so ingrained for me that it is hard to imagine not doing it.
At any rate, it makes for a good discussion.