People have different definitions of retirement and I find that it often depends on how old they are. Being the figurehead here and also by virtue of being retired (in one of the definitions) I usually have to face the resulting confusion.

  • Retired is what follows after you’re no longer capable of work. Let me rephrase this, it is what follows after you’re no longer capable of doing much of anything. It means being put out to pasture. This definition is common among the older folks, the greatest generation and the silent generation. From this group we also hear about having a duty to work. Retirement activities consists of playing bingo and drinking afternoon tea in a retirement home.
  • Retired is a period of fun that starts roughly at age 60 where the retired person starts doing all the things he has been putting off or didn’t have time to do while have a career. (This group also tends to have “careers”.) I am of course talking about the boomers here, mainly. Here, retirement means hang gliding over the rain forest, playing golf, going on a cruise vacation, RVing to all the states, and other high priced ways of spending down the nest egg. Early retirement is considered anything before 60, but typically 50-55.
  • Retired is something you are when you no longer need to work for a living and no longer do so. You may not even have had a “real career” like the boomers, but that’s because you belong to Generation-X and Gen-Xers don’t have “careers”. We have “resumes”. In this sense, retirement is an escape from the careerism of the parents and by financial constraint mostly also a rejection of consumerism (because means are more limited).

The Millennials will also have their own definition of retirement, but I have not been able to tell it apart from the typical goals of twenty-somethings which usually involves lots of traveling. In many cases, they follow Gen-Xers except their source of income is not a modest investment income but a modest online business income.

Originally posted 2011-08-30 10:19:36.