First of all, let me admit that I'm envious of Syd at Retirement: A Fulltime Job. That's not just because she sends a lot of readers my way, though she does.
Let's face it, I'd be jealous of anyone who gets to retire in their forties with enough resources to travel, a cute & loving partner to travel with, and their health intact.
A young friend of mine, an auto mechanic who is in his late thirties, is busy buying up rental real estate, desperate to leave the work world behind by age 50. He doesn't want to spend the rest of his life under cars, nor does he want to retrain for some other career. If he has to work, he tells me, then fixing autos is the way to go. But he believes that fixing up and maintaining rentals will suit him better and leave him with more time to pursue the hiking and rock climbing that he also loves.
I sort of envy him as well (except for the repairing rentals, hiking and rock climbing part!).
But would I have retired in my forties, even if it had been financially feasible? And assuming I hadn't been busy adding children to my family during that time?
Somehow, I suspect not.
The decision to retire, when not dictated by job loss or health concerns, is so very personal.
It seems to me that some people, like Syd and my mechanic friend, do leisure well. I don't count myself in that number. Left to my own devices, I tend to hole up with my books, the remote control and a full supply of Ben & Jerry's. I don't even bother to answer the phone much of the time when I'm home alone.
Work provides structure and social interaction, whether we need it or want it. People like me need both. In fact, as I plan for my eventual retirement, part of my plans involve thinking of ways to maintain structure and interaction (while still managing to sleep in on weekdays, travel, read, and hit movie matinees).
When I retire, I want to RETIRE--all caps! I don't want to change careers--I love the one I have; I don't want to become an entrepreneur--contrary to the Dave Ramsay mantra, not everyone is cut out for self-employment. I know I'm not.
But I also don't want to vegetate into a hermit. I want to volunteer; I want to travel; I want to have way more time for myself.
And of course, I want to be in a financial position to do all of the above.