I have spent the past several months excitedly telling friends, family and perfect strangers that I will be retiring at the end of this year at the age of 44. The responses from people have sometimes been surprising to me. Some don't understand why I would want to retire at such a young age, some wonder what I will fill my time with, and a few seem to very much disapprove of my decision. It's almost as if I have offended them in some way. This reaction surprises me the most. I feel very proud of myself that I achieved a goal that I have hoped to attain since early in my career. So it is hard for me to understand the viewpoint that I am doing something that warrants disapproval.
It just occurred to me, though, that each person's view on retirement is influenced by his own life experience. And I have a vantage point that not many other people share. In two weeks, I will turn 44, the age at which my own mother died of cancer. While I have never really worried that I would die young, it has given me a perspective that life is short and so you should try and make the life for yourself that you really want, not the one others think you should live. You shouldn't have to wait until you are 65 to retire if that's what you want for yourself right now. Life can be too short to wait until later to do the things you would really like and are able to do now. I'm figuring on having another 50 years in front of me, but why not start living them the way I want to if I can make it work financially?
I had a goal and consider myself extremely lucky to have been able to achieve it. Most of my friends are happy for me, many would also love to retire. My dad seems very proud (especially since he has always preached that it's most important to make sure you are having fun) and is happy I will have more time to spend with him in his own retirement. I think my mom would feel the same, and would very much approve.