I’m retired…, or am I?

Image shared on Flickr by Christopher Dick

I guess I don’t know what being retired means.

Either that or it means something different to other folks.

I guess there is being really retired where you don’t do anything that might bring in some extra income.

For some retirement includes working part time to bring in some supplemental income.

Then, there is retired and going to work in an entirely new career field.

As well, there is retired and going to work as a high paid contractor or consultant in the field you retired from — don’t know about the “high paid” part of that.

Then, there is military retirement, which apparently isn’t really enough for anyone to live on, as all the military retirees I know are working full time towards a second retirement income.


Even though I went back to my former place of long-term employment for a short stint as a contractor, I was still retired.  Sure, I was getting paid — better than what I was getting before I retired, I might add — for the work, but I was also getting a pension check.

And there was a difference in me that others noticed!

Before I retired, I couldn’t quit without putting my early retirement in jeopardy…, and I was not happy — stuck in a job I couldn’t leave.  As a retiree coming back to work a contract, I always had a smile, something that was more rare than I realized before I left.  I didn’t have to be there and, if I felt like it, I could leave with no adverse consequences other than the loss of pay and reduce likelihood of being asked back again.

Plus, I was getting to do the fun part of the job.

I’m retired and I don’t have plans to look for a new job.  However, if I’m asked, like I was last time, to go back to work for a few months and I get to primarily do the fun parts of the job, I’ll do it.

Until then, Im really retired — I think.


In my recent post, I don’t wear a watch when…, one of the commenters said that she didn’t think I was really retired.

What does retirement mean for you? Do you want retirement without any other work or will retirement include working in some way for you or your significant other?


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Vered - MomGrind Oct 6, 2008

    I think the definition of retirement has changed a lot. To me, "retired" means out of the rat race. But you can still take on projects, do consulting jobs, freelance, write a blog and make a little extra income from ads… there's really no need to limit yourself.

  • XUP Oct 6, 2008

    Stop talking about beautiful, beautiful retirement,damn you! I am soooo looking forward to it. I will take some time to just do things I want to do — work out, cook, travel, shop, visit with people. Then I may find myself some little earner somewhere that's totally different from what I do now. Maybe retrain for something simple and fun.

  • Dot Oct 6, 2008

    I don't think retirement is as available as it once was. It sure isn't an option for me, even though early retirement becomes available to me in less than six months. I used to define retirement as not having to work for money, being able to work on things that you don't get paid for, and having as much leisure as you'd like.

    Now I define retirement as the time when I estimate I can afford not to work for an employer full-time. In other words, possibly a pipe dream.

  • Julie Oct 6, 2008

    Oh, blessed retirement…it's sure not going to be what I envisioned when I was younger. Back then, I dreamed of lazy days reading, reading, reading… Now, it's going to be a very different picture! I've got things to DO! 😉

    I'm with Vered on this one. I think this is becoming the predominant thinking for our society. Today's definition includes not being on a prescribed timetable. As for me, I intend to be more busy than ever. Next summer, I'll be able to retire (early) and I can hardly wait to start living a completely different way!

  • teeni Oct 6, 2008

    I think retirement definitely counts even if you are working to bring in extra income. Most people probably couldn't survive on the benefits they receive and pensions these days are very rare. But hopefully for most people it is a more fun job and one they could easily exchange if they had to.

  • Urban Panther Oct 6, 2008

    Wow, good question. The Lion had his 'first retirement' in his mid-30s when he sold his lucrative catering business and took 2 years off. Now he is working on his 'second retirement'. I guess retirement to me means being free of having to work. So, you are retired, whereas I most definitely am not. I haven't worn a watch in over a month now. Does that count for something at least.

  • I'm a volunteer at heart, so I'm really retired…no working to bring in extra money. If what I was doing when I was getting paid was working, I'm working at least as hard now. If that was playing, then I'm still playing and hopefully making a contribution. I believe in living simply so I can spend my time doing things that satisfy my soul. Life is too short to do otherwise.

  • rummuser Oct 7, 2008

    For me retirement means, and I am retired, being able to do what I want, when and where I want and how I want. No more no less.

  • Cath Lawson Oct 7, 2008

    Hi Mike – when you do get offered these contracts, I guess it's a good feeling knowing you are in control and you don't have to accept them. And getting to do only the fun parts of the job must be a big plus.

  • Julie Oct 7, 2008

    rummuser nailed it! 😉

  • Reely Reetired Oct 7, 2008

    I too agree with Rummuser.

    My life is full, doing all the things I love doing and discovering new interests. Many are activities which I was involved in even before I retired. Maintaining friendships is of great importance.

    I just came back from a wonderful bike ride near the river on a coolish sunny autumn day. I can't write at detail now because I have to get supper going for someone who promised to help me with a project in the house, which needs two people.

    I'm one of the forutnate retirees who can afford to be retired (unless the market continues to crash). I feel for the young people who often have to change jobs, and don't have good company benefits and retirement pensions. They have no choice but to continue to earn a living in their senior years.

    Tomorrow is spoken for with a medical appointment, errands in the p.m. (Thanksgiving is coming), and a social evening in the community.

  • Mike Goad Oct 7, 2008

    Wow! Thanks all for visiting and commenting on this!

    @ Vered – Out of the rat race is a good part of being retired. Not being limited by having a job is another good part.

    @ XUP – Part of my tagline says Exit78 includes: occasionally — commentary and thoughts from retired life. Retirement is great to look forward to, but too many people I've known have dwelt on it too much — and a couple were disappointed when they got there.

    @ Dot – I agree that it's not as available as it used to be. I didn't think it would be there for me, but it turned out otherwise. If I had waited to retire in February 2009, like I originally intended, I might not have been able to, especially if I had left my 401k in the risky investments it was in in February 2007. There's a number of folks at my old employer who are regretting not retiring early — some who don't know what they're going to do now. The company stock has gone from $125 a share to $78 — and it's a good company, a utility.

    @ Julie – Having plenty of things to do is an important part of being successful at retirement. I know one gentleman who was miserable after a year of retirement and regretted it — because he didn't have anything to do!

    @ teeni – I agree completely. My dad retired on social security, but went back to work when they relaxed the income restrictions. He is 76 and is working a full time job — gets up at 4 A.M. and drives 25 miles to a manufacturing plan where he cleans up before the day shift starts, and once the shift starts he finishes on the floor, working at least 40 hours a week. My dad, though he's getting social security, is certainly NOT retired.

    @ Urban Panther – Not wearing a watch counts for wahtever you want it to count for. That's a very good definition — free of having to work. That's where I was at on the contract job. I didn't have to work.

    @ Jean – I guess I'm kind of selfish. I've never been much of one to volunteer. However, there is something I've been considering that might be interesting. If I do it, you'll hear about it here at Exit78. If I don't this will probably be the last you'll hear of it.

    @rumuser – I don't have enough money to do all of the things that I want to do. 😉 However, I am free to do whatever I want within our budget…, whenever I (or we) decide to do it…, including sleeping as late as I want or getting up early if I want.

    @ Cath – It is a very big plus. What's an even better feeling came when I heard that the class did very well on their exams and the very positive feedback that came from the class and from management on the contribution I had made.

    @ Julie – Yes, he did!

    @ Reely Reetired – I'm fortunate, too, to be able to afford being retired. I worked for the same company for 26 1/2 years after nearly 9 years in the military and fortunately, the company still has a healthy pension plan. I'm not too concerned about the direct effect of the market on my investments. The indirect impact, could be traumatic, if things don't improve, but, if it's bad for me, it's going to be really, really bad for a lot of other people. Most of my investments do not have a direct market link.

  • Friar Oct 7, 2008


    You must be lucky, to have had a job that you liked (or tolerated enough) to want to come back to.

    Because when I retire, I hope I'm 10,000 miles away from my present workplace.

    The thought of coming back is so beyond my comprehension, I can't even imagine wanting to do that. (Not even at GUNPOINT!) I think I'd rather be a Wall-Mart greeter.

    But like I said, you probably had a better job than I do.

  • Mike Goad Oct 7, 2008

    @ Friar – I liked my job well enough that I stayed in the same job for nearly 24 years, even though I could have done other things. Some of the people I worked with over the years moved on to become corporate executives, but I wasn't cut out for that. And even though I was in the same job for so long, the pay more than kept pace with inflation — some years significantly so.

    I was an operations instructor at a nuclear power plant.

  • Reely Reetired Oct 8, 2008

    Let’s face it, when we retire in our 60s, our years of good health and physical activity are limited.

    My husband retired many years before I did. I chose to retire at 60 so I could share more time with him. We travelled abroad on three occasions, spent more time with friends, family, and grandchildren. We visited out-of- town friends, and had overnight guests. We spent our winters skiing out West, and mini holidays in scenic Vermont. We led busy lives pursing common and diverse interests, hobbies, and sports. Six years later, he passed away suddenly and totally unexpected.

    All this to say, is that I amassed wonderful memories of an incredible retirement with my husband. I would not trade those years for anything. No amount of money is worth those few years of precious shared retirement.

    We do with our lives what we chose. I have chosen not to go back to work. I continue to enjoy my productive retirement and live with no regrets.

  • rummuser Oct 8, 2008

    Mike, there could be another school of thought! One could be re-tyred! Start all over again on retreads! Quite why one would want to do it, unless one is in financial need, will however be a moot point.

  • Mike Goad Oct 8, 2008

    @ Reely Retired — Having more years for retirement was part of why I planned for and aimed for retiring at 55. Purely by luck, my finances allowed me to do so at a time when the administrative and management conditions at work had degraded to the point that I was going to have to take my pension and leave, even if I had to find another job. The stress combined with some physical issues resulted in chronic pain that required physical therapy. If I could have just done the core business, I could have stayed. Fortunately our finances were such that I didn't NEED to find a job and, if the ask me to come back next summer, which is likely, I can choose not to.

    Karen and I are both 56, were married when I was 20 and she was 19, and are looking forward to more than a few years more together…, another reason for planning for and retiring early.

    @ rummuser — I wouldn't want to start over. That's why the only place I would consider working is a place where I already know most of the answers.

  • chris Oct 9, 2008

    I will never retire from doing what I love, which is teaching…My plan is after I "retire" from Public Schools, I will either just continue running my school which I"m currently building in the Philippines, or park myself in some University talking my a** off while college kids busily write down what I say. What could be better, right?

  • Reely Reetired Oct 9, 2008

    You have found your real calling. You are so fortunate to have a profession which you love. People like you are rare.

    I enjoyed my career; however, I’m in love with many other interests, and passions. Right now, my bike is calling me. I want to feel the warmth of the autumn sun, and the wind in my face. Days like today are becoming rare. November is on our doorstep.

    There's something special about the rhythm of my pedal stroke. My heart begins to race with my increased speed. I become one with my bike. I enjoy the lack of traffic at this time of the day, and the colourful autumn scenery around me.

    When I cycle alone, the fast pace clears my head. It makes me feel so alive and healthy. Surprisingly, when I ride alone I do much of my creative thinking. I return home invigorated and ready to tackle other tasks.

  • Mike Goad Oct 9, 2008

    @ chris – I agree with Reely Retired. You are indeed fortunate. The teaching part of my old job is the part that draws me back. I had considered, very briefly, going into education as a second profession, but then I came to my senses. I've not got the temperament for it.

    @ Reely Retired — I need to get a bike. Your description reminded me of how much I liked riding.

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