What Does Retirement Mean To You?

Short post today as I’m home sick with a nasty bug.  Since I find myself at home on a workday, it reminded me of a great post I read at Bible Money Matters just yesterday on the subject of retirement.  Pete specifically asks, “Do You Ever Plan To Fully Retire?”

It’s an interesting question for a couple reasons.  “Retirement” means different things to different people, and that idea can change over time.  When I was a kid, retirement meant sitting on a lake fishing several hours a day, and basically being able to do whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted.  I suppose that is still true, to a certain extent.

Today my definition of “retirement” is centered more around continuing to find ways to contribute to causes you believe in, regardless of compensation.  In other words, I look forward to “retiring” from working for money so that I can begin working for something I believe in.  Not that I don’t believe in the mission associated with my current job, but let’s face it, most of us are not lucky enough to be able to wake up every single morning totally inspired by our 8-5 jobs.

At this point I’d like to turn things over to readers, and offer up the following question for discussion in the comments below.  What does retirement mean to you?


  1. I do like the idea of sitting by a lake somewhere and fishing several hours a day or maybe playing a round of golf with friends.

    But, I think retirement is about more than this. I believe retirement should involve charity work, volunteering your time and money to help those less fortunate.

  2. I like your definition. The happiest retired people I’ve met are always involved in giving their time to something they believe in. I’m able to do a limited amount of that right now, but my heart would swell with gladness if I was able to contribute my time and resources generously.

  3. Thanks for the link FD! The question has gotten me thinking even more after some of the responses I received to the post. Personally I am in the camp that will probably never retire completely, but instead transition to doing something I enjoy doing, and believe in more.

    Hopefully I’ll be able to move full time to blogging long before then!

  4. I hope you start to feeling better soon. I just love this definition of retirement because that is exactly how I hope we can lead our lives when that time comes. I am looking forward to that!

  5. Having watched family members age and be hit with health problems, I have changed my view of retirement. Their plan of what retirement was going to be was drastically changed due to circumstances beyond their control. I spend every day NOW doing a little something I truly enjoy, whether it be curling up with a book for a half hour, or playing with my children (why wait for grandkids to enjoy the little people in our lives?). I’m not waiting for retirement to enjoy the life I have.

  6. I personally see it as being able to do what you want to do when you want to do it. That’s what I’ll do when I retire — years and years from now. Of course, when I am able to do what I want, I will do what I enjoy doing and hopefully still be constructive in my waning years.

  7. I guess retirement for me will be when I am in a position to not *have* to work. I can do with my life what I please and not be tied to a 9-to-5. Knowing me, I will still want to be busy doing something, but it will be based on want and not need.

  8. To me, retirement means being in a state of mind and money that you can choose with absolute freedom whether and how much you will work for income.

  9. I don’t ever plan to fully retire unless there is a physical reason for me to not work.

    By work, I mean anything that has some kind of schedule and commitment, which includes volunteering.

    I’m like Mr. GoTo, retirement is a state of mind.

  10. I kept telling people I wanted to retire early (like 35), and it took me a while to realize that my definition of retirement didn’t match theirs. I’m looking for freedom to pursue other vocations without concerns to about the exact compensation.

    I really want to be free to take a part-time gig for pleasure and spend the rest of my time with my son, or to spend a few months focused on one of my many pet projects.

    Maybe it’s not so much about retirement, but prioritizing.

  11. It is funny, as retirement is 30 years away, it isn’t something I think of often. I do contribute the max to my 401K, but as for what it means… that’s something I need to think about. It’s a good point, because if I can answer that, it might help define my long term goals. I know my 1, 3 and 5 year goals, but have been struggling with 10, 20 and 30. This might be a great place for me to start.

  12. There are times I feel like all I do with my life is work while I wait to die. But if I ever do get the chance to retire, I want to split my time doing volunteer work and travel the world. On the other hand, I’d also like to be able to do things like see a movie in mid-afternoon and never have to ride a rush-hour subway again. Just – time to enjoy life, instead of endure it for that paycheck.

  13. I’ve got a shade under 17 yrs in with my employer, so I do think of retirement from this job occasionally since it’s not too far out on the distant horizon.

    The concept of retirement took on a different meaning for me when my brother, 6 years my senior, retired from the Air Force a couple of years ago. Seeing how he dealt with that change and what he’s done with the opportunity has really reshaped my notions.

    And too, I just became a Dad last year, so that’s reshaping my future on a daily basis and shifted the perspective pretty dramatically.

    Mostly, the appeal of retirement is that I’ll get to work on & for who I want, rather than need to. I will certainly want to DO something though – I need goals. I don’t think I could tolerate the old Norman Rockwell-esqe notion of retirement being spending all fishing and/or whittling on the front porch. I’d rather travel!

  14. FREEDOM! That should be the new definition of retirement! With the stresses and financial issues that most of us face daily, freedom from those stresses and issues should be the goal!

    My personal goal is this: Done working for “the man” by age 55 at the latest. Survive with a four-legged chair of small govt pension, a 457, 2 Roth IRAS (me and wife) and SS (Whatever is left of it!)

    Then, I will wake up every morning and do whatever I want! Work for a charity! Go golfing! Relax! Work at my church!

    Freedom is the goal!!!!!

  15. I’m with Brian – no one understand my dream to “retire” at 40. They think I want to stop working and start collect a pension/IRA distributions.

    Our dream is to not “need” to work – but likely spending our days working part-time, plus volunteer work. We miss out on a lot of opportunities because of our 6-day work schedule.

  16. Retirement means to don’t ever have to worry about money and to NEVER depend on a job! Retirement meaning live life the way you want and do the thing you truly love!

  17. I am 70 yo,single,senior,retired after 38 yrs of being a RN in nursing,debt free, retired at age 56. I prepared for retirement by subscribing to AARP when I was 40yo, continue to be frugal,401K, upgrading employment by continue education and changing jobs for more money and benefits. I was able to work week ends only and get paid w/ benefits for a 40 hr week which allowed me to do other part time jobs in nursing. The money that I earned was invested into buying fixer upers and selling them owner financed at higher interest than todays.I had 8 of these.Then I retired!!
    I did the traveling, senior exercise groups,volunteering,soup kitchen,part time job at a resturant as cashier,visiting,and was soo unhappy!
    I took the training to be a foster parent for infants only, learned a new trade,and along w/ this I started a government run day care 8 hrs/day that furnished toys,books,and food.With these 2 I added baby sitting for foster children who had foster babies and had to work.Boy was I happy!!
    Then when I was 59 I adopted a 6 day old infant son who is now 11 yr old and life is great.

  18. I never really thought about this before (probably because it seems so far away right now!). I like your idea to stop working for money and start working for something the fulfills you emotionally. (I hope you feel better soon. Drink lots of fluids!)

  19. When I think of retirement, I think of getting away from my day job. I do enjoy my job, and the challenge of it, but it takes away from all the other fun things I like to do! Like gardening, blogging, knitting, sewing, etc. Hopefully my husband’s business will continue to grow and become successful, and I would be tickled pink to be the office manager and bookkeeper for our own business. I would need to keep “business” hours, but I’d be able to stay home and work in doing the other things I love that I can hardly find time for now! Hope you are feeling better soon!

  20. Retirement – I retired last year and my husband retires in three months – scary stuff. He has always had a job he found exciting, worked at the same job for 30 years. To my surprise he is raring to go. For us, as for so many, it means freedom. Freedom to move and live where we want to, to travel, to become self sufficient in food – I already work a day a week for a charity and may well continue with something.

  21. To me retirement means to have the time and money to do as I please. I plan to retire by the age of 25.

  22. I consider myself retired right now. I’m 42 years old and work as an instructor at an online college. In addition, I write a blog and books. This is exactly what I planned to do when I retired. My time is my own, except for when my first grade children are home from school. I do work that is meant to earn money a few hours a day, whenever I want and volunteer and do other hobbies the rest of the time.

    I think it’s a false dichotomy to think that people have to work like crazy until they drop and then just do nothing. I don’t make a ton of money, but I have time to relax already. If I can do this until I’m 80 or older I’ll be happy.