Define Retirement for Yourself

When you read the word “retirement,” which images appear in your mind? Do you picture yourself as an older person, saying goodbye to your colleagues at work? Do you see yourself tending to your garden or going on a cruise?

For most of us, retirement is an idea heavily influenced by traditional education and legacy media. Punch out at 65, go on a nice vacation, then play darts once a week at the pub. Think of someone who has your best interests at heart. Is that the kind of retirement they’d want you to have? I doubt it, but in any case, it’s not the kind of retirement we’ll be talking about in this book.

When I say “retirement,” I mean “traveling the world” – but only if that’s your dream.

If your passion is making things with your hands, then that’s what I mean. Mostly, I mean waking up whenever you want, and if it’s at 5 AM to go for a run, I’ll say, “Go for it!” You’ll be one kick-ass “retiree.”

In my book (pun intended), retirement simply means no longer working for money, taking full control of your time, and spending your energy only on activities you enjoy and pursuits that matter to you. It’s a very different kind of retirement from the one outlined in your pension plan, and it’s achievable at (almost) any age. 40 years of toiling away not required.

In 2005, a woman named Sylvia had just completed law school and gotten her first job in New Orleans.

Then, hurricane Katrina hit. Having lost many of her possessions to the disaster9, Sylvia decided to make a change: Instead of just rebuilding her life and replacing everything, she dropped most of her stuff for good and moved to Seattle.

In order to be less vulnerable to a similar event, Sylvia adopted a more frugal lifestyle. She delivered pizzas on weekends and put her whole legal salary towards paying off her student loans.

With her debt gone and just $20,000 in annual expenses, Sylvia started investing most of her money.

She “retired” at age 32 with $1 million in investments – but not the way you’d think. Rather than playing shuffleboard all day, Sylvia simply quit her job and did something she’d always wanted to do: She opened her own law practice. Her “pension” gave her the freedom to be her own boss – retired but still happily working.


Retirement doesn’t have to be boring. Most of the longest-living people on earth continue some form of labor into their 90s and beyond, even if it’s just a heavy involvement in everyday family affairs.

Similarly, most wealthy people don’t use their freedom to abandon work altogether. They just dedicate their time to better causes.

Once you’re retired, you could travel full-time, pursue a new career, do charity work, or go about a creative hobby you love. Whatever your retirement will look like, make sure you define it for yourself.

Action Item: Define what retirement means to you

Take a few minutes to think about how society has shaped your idea of retirement. Which preconceived notions do you have? Do you doubt any of them? What’s your opinion?

Imagine yourself being “retired” the way we just described it. What do you see yourself doing each day? Which projects would you like to tackle? How would you change your daily routine?

Write down your own definition of “retirement” if you like, but as long as you spend some time reflecting on the concept, you’ll have taken yet another step towards financial freedom today.

Related Post

Leave a Reply