January 25 , 2019 /


(Fisk obtained the copyright for the sleepy boy and slogan “It’s time to retire” in 1910. The ad is from 1922.)

Those of us who write, whether for pleasure or profit, have been encouraged to write what we know.  I’ve taken that to heart numerous times and the words come forth, sometimes with great effort, sometimes more easily than others. We all have our favorite writers and I took a Master Class from Malcolm Gladwell that I enjoyed immensely.  Did it help my writing?  I don’t know, I just keep writing.  This piece was inspired by a number of friends who have retired recently, some of them traditionally around 60-65, others less so, and one couple we met recently “retired” at age 35.  I do not consider myself “retired” at age 82.  Maybe retread would be a better word at this stage.  You know, repair and replace.

I like using this line from J.K. Simmons in the Farmer’s Insurance ad: “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.”  My careers suggest that when you hang around long enough and do a lot of different things, you get to experience a wide variety of people and places. That enriches life greatly, and in so doing, I have found meaning, purpose and direction.

Over the years I have had the privilege of several careers, numerous jobs and still find enjoyment in working, part-time now on my own schedule.  So, you might ask, what’s the point of all of this?  The point is this.  I have “retired” at least four different times and as many others can testify, “retirement” doesn’t mean what it used to mean.  There are those who see this time as a transition to a life of leisure without any need or desire to work except perhaps at some hobby or sport. A friend who retired at 65 is now 94 and honestly, he has been fairly quiet and sedentary the past 30 years.  That’s his choice, not necessarily mine.  Quite the opposite, I am somewhat noisy and active.

I have written a blog on this topic on at least three other occasions, Feb 12, 2016, Sept 2, 2017, and Feb 5, 2018.  It seems to have become some kind of unconscious annual “retirement” ritual, remembering the why, how, when and why not.  There are more than enough books on the topic and maybe, given the time now, a new one would be a welcome addition.  I’ll have to give that some more thought.

Here are several illustrations of others who have “retired” differently from a routine transition from work to retirement.  Names are changed to protect the guilty.\

  1. Frank – 12 years ago, at age 60, he decided he would accept a one-year contract to lead an organization through a transition of leadership, a kind of resident consultant who helps evaluate systems and programs already in place, make some needed and neglected changes where possible and set the stage for the next CEO. Having done that successfully, Frank then went on to six more by working one year, taking a year off, working another year and so on.
  2. Todd – 3 years ago, age 67, he sold his very successful business, cashed out, tore down his old house and built a new one, began traveling all over the world and added significantly to a personal art collection now being catalogued and shared privately.
  3. Marie – 7 years ago, age 65, she quit her full -time job partly to care for an aging parent and began consulting on a part-time basis. She has published articles and a book in her field of expertise and is called on for help by those who appreciate her past experience and know the value of her good work.
  4. Robert and Carol – 3 years ago, age 62, they assessed their plans and they both quit their respective professions and entered the world of volunteerism where they contribute significantly to local and international issues. They are finding great satisfaction in being able to help others without regard for the need to be paid for their expertise.
  5. Sam – 5 years ago, at age 65, he quit his Executive Director position of a professional trade association and accepted a 5-month position in a summer resort, May-October, all expenses paid plus a generous stipend. For the other 7 months, he retreats to a warmer climate to enjoy his leisure time pursuing numerous activities of personal interest.
  6. Sylvia – 8 years ago, at age 65, she retired from teaching after a long and successful career of 40 years. She now spends more time with her family, volunteers regularly at a local library and continues to help children enjoy reading and writing.  She is also active in local political circles.

One sub-culture in the U.S. that has exploded in the past 10 years is the world of RVing.  That’s recreational vehicles for the uninitiated. We have been active in that world for some 20 years on a part time, seasonal basis and met many on the road, some still working remotely and others completely retired living full time in their motorhomes and travel trailers, one couple having done that for 24 years!

Suffice to say here that there are many avenues to what is called retirement.  The main point is that most people have plans and choices and my recommendation is that sooner is better than later. Older people who are healthy can make many contributions after “retiring” and if you haven’t seen “The Intern” with Robert DeNiro, have a look and enjoy.



Comments (2)

  1. Retirement can be hard to imagine but it’s also essential. What do you want it to be like? How do you envision spending your time? We’re meeting with our financial advisor to talk about that picture and how we’re on track (or not) to bring it to life. If we’re not, it doesn’t mean no retirement, it means another vision. One thing that we’re doing pre-retirement is going on adventures and living the life we want instead of waiting for a time in the future to start living.

    Always appreciate your writing and insights, Gary!


    1. Thanks! We write from experience, what we see, what we’ve learned. “Retirement” is one of those things that some people seem to think is in the future and there are enough pieces in place that it will be OK. Those who have been most successful in later years have laid some solid plans sufficiently ahead of time such as you are doing. That has the best chance of providing time and resources to choose what you want to do. I would say the big three looking down the road are health, finances and relationships. Then there is the where do you want to be piece and we’re still not settled on that since we’re somewhat peripatetic.

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