Friday, August 6, 2010

Defining Retirement

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.


Dave said...

Grace - I agree with you 100% on your statement that successful retirement is based on your personal choice of what you want to do. Some people find the working world draining of time, energy and spirit. For these people - myself included - slowing things down a bit at retirement is exactly what I want to do. I do plan to keep mentally and physically active but the pace will be determined by me and my wife.

Barb said...

Im always amused when people say that they will be bored if they don't work when they retire. There are so many, many things you can do-you just get to choose the where and when (said by someone retired unwillingly, lol)

Sharon said...

I started thinking about retirement a couple of years ago when I wanted to move to the lake...still trying to find a way to do that one!

SylviaB said...

It seems to me that the key thing is that retirement gives you freedom. That freedom can be used however you want. Oh my goodness; don't we ever stop having to live up to somebody else's expectations? That's what it is all about for me. I don't go to my office five days a week for 10 hours a day any more. Somedays I do nothing but exercise, take a long walk with my dog, and sit in a cafe reading a novel. Somedays I choose to work from early morning to late night. My choice. I've gotten to know what's on TV much better than I used to, and ... most important, I've had time to get to know myself better than I used to. What a gift! That's just what I've been blogging about since I retired and I'm certainly not going to let anyone else define this part of my life for me.