What Does Retirement Mean To You?



I am heading out of town today.  Our “little girl” is getting “sworn in” tomorrow, and I am driving down to Virginia to be with her and witness this momentous occasion.  Yep, we have a lawyer in the family. (John and I are very proud parents.)  I will write about our experience later this week, so for now, I hope you will enjoy this article, written by Jean C. Setzfand from AARP, July 12, 2011.  (The pictures, though, are mine.)

Few people see retirement anymore as a time when they’ll put their feet up and do nothing. Increasingly, people expect to work past 65 or 67, even if their job is something completely different from what they’ve done their whole lives. They’ll do this because either the work is rewarding or, more often these days, their budgets require it — especially for health care costs and even if it’s not full time.

But in this new era of retirement, planning shouldn’t focus solely on finances. Without doubt, money is a huge part of retirement planning — probably the most significant part — but it’s not all of it.

Sunset in Key West

Sunset in Key West

When planning for retirement, having a balanced approach that considers both life (what it will look like on a day-to-day basis) and finances will help you achieve the most positive outlook. You must prepare mentally and emotionally for what happens when you actually retire.

For some, retirement means resting and relaxing.

What do you picture when you think about your retirement? It’ll be different for everyone. Is it the luxury of sleeping late and not rushing to the office? Is it the fear of losing the thing that gave your life the most purpose, and maybe your identity — your job? Or is retirement the opportunity for you to do something very specific with your time on your terms? This could mean volunteering, studying photography, writing the novel you never had time for, traveling or even working 10 to 15 hours a week for your former employer or some other organization.

Sunset in Turks and Caicos

Sunset in Turks and Caicos

As I look into the future, I dream of running a community-sustained agriculture (CSA) farm. In the most traditional sense of retirement, that dream is about 20 years away, but I’m imagining right now what it will take to make that dream my future reality.

What does retirement mean for you? Write down a list of specific retirement goals and then try to trim it down to your top five goals. Be creative. Start a collage or a journal with photos, magazine images, words and phrases to help you visualize your goals and make them more concrete. Or start an online community for people imagining retirement. Hearing others describe their plans can enhance your own perspective.

Sunset at our place in Maryland

Sunset at our place in Maryland


  1. Interesting article. And very pretty pictures! :)

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