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February 18, 2011


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Banjo Steve

Hey, I figure that as long as you do no harm to yourself nor others, then you have the right to live your life as you choose. It certainly feels more rewarding to do service to others, but there are a lot of working people out there who are busily working to look after #1 only.

As for taking someone else's job, I consider that a bogus argument. If you are qualified and find it rewarding, then go for it.

I have little patience for all those "should's" coming from such judgmental people who have such a narrow view of what one's life "should be". Kind of like telling me what kind of religion I "should" choose.


You have uncovered some selfish, self-centered and uninformed people. The negatives for retiring or not retiring are ludicrous.

The first one is my favorite. Because you can retire early you are lazy and wasting your life. I would think both you and I have the same reaction to that silliness. The writer is saying there is no worth or purpose to a human life unless it is sitting at a desk 8 hours a day to help make someone else rich.

Obviously this individual missed the memo about life being much more than work. It is about creativity, helping others, expanding your mind, deepening relationships, and finding your own spirituality, and yes, solitude and periods of laziness.

To contend that life without work until a socially acceptable age is a wasted life shows me a person who has no life.



My husband retired a number of years ago, but occasionally goes back to work on a consulting basis. He is hired because he has the skills to do the job without any more training, and the ability to train the people he works with so that they can take over his job. It is a win-win situation for everyone.


Merriam Webster Dictionary contains the following definitions. See where you fit in.

retired-withdrawn from one's position or occupation, having concluded one's working or professional career.

retiree-a person who has retired from a working or professional career.

retirement-withdrawal from one's position or occupation or from active working life.

You stopped working at age 44 because you saved enough money to do so. I'd say you just quit your job for whatever reason you'd like to spin. Now, you are back at a consultant job, basically in the same career mode, earning money and making a living, for whatever reason you can spin it.

You're working, earning money, you are not withdrawn from any position, you have not concluded working, you are not withdrawn from an occupation and you are in an active working life.

Bingo! You are NOT retired. Period.

Even your blog title: Retirement: A full time JOB......is an oxymoron.


That commenter to your 2008 piece is like those who bingo the childfree for not having kids ("It is what you DO; you must hate kids!") or those who denigrade atheists because they don't believe in god. I am both childfree and god-free (and debt-free and work-free....).

Don't pay any attention to them.


The "lazy" or "selfish" question is something I faced when I was planning my early retirement. As I have mentioned before elsewhere on your blog, I called it the "guilt factor" of no longer being a productive member of society. The obvious solution was to do volunteer work. While I was still working I started doing some volunteer work (with The Nature Conservancy) and found that I enjoyed it and the people I was working with. Problem solved.

After retiring at age 45 I moved to my present community and started helping out with various community projects, in part to get to know my new neighbors. The volunteer work ranged from the formal (Treasurer of my neighborhood HOA for more than five years) to the obscure (I make and install all the street signs in our rural community). Over the last decade I've done more than a dozen volunteer projects involving uncounted hours of my time. I have no doubt whatsoever that I have contributed more to my community as a volunteer than I ever did during my career.

For example: some years ago I created a Local Improvement District that we used to pave the main roads in our community. Despite vociferous opposition, the vote to levy the $3000+ per lot assessment passed with a 71% yes vote. It was a trying experience for a recluse to endure but I still get thank yous from neighbors who appreciate having paved roads at long last.

So, "Lazy"? Perhaps. I do what I want rather than what I must. I have plenty of time for hobbies such as botany, home theater, reading, exploring this beautiful area, and the like. When I "should" be out working and earning a living.

"Selfish"? I think not. The myriad volunteer jobs I do don't have a lot of takers. For example: I volunteer one day a week in the chronically understaffed assessor's office in this tiny county, population about 4500. So far as my "boss" knows, I am the only volunteer at an assessor's office in this state. If I weren't there, the work I do wouldn't get done, there's no money for additional staff. (My more traditional volunteer positions include Library District Trustee, member of the county weed board, and member of the neighborhood ACC.)

Yes, I like being retired and lazy. A lot.

Retired Syd

@Steve: You probably know I'm not a fan of the "should's" either.

@Bob: Well I think you and I did get the same memo.

@Margie: I think that is going to be more and more typical as the brain-drain begins with sheer number of boomers that will be retiring over the coming decades. That giant sucking sound you hear is the institutional memory walking out the doors of America's businesses.

@Morrison: Thanks for clearing that up for me, super helpful.

@deegee: Very true. But it is fun to write about those people . . .

fred doe

Work= force x distance. everything else is a abstraction, mired in the justification of semantics. "If" everyone one in the world got paid the same, what would you do? another good post ms syd.

Bill Birnbaum

Hi, Syd... I, like you, have recently accepted a consulting assignment. Not because I need the money, but rather because I enjoy the intellectual stimulation. I'm sure there are many reasons why an otherwise fully-retired person might choose to work, either a little or a lot. Bill

Retired Syd

@dgpcolorado: Wow, that made me tired just reading it--I don't think anyone could ever accuse you of being lazy!

@Fred: Good question, interesting way to think about it.

@Bill: It's funny, I think when you add money to the mix it changes peoples' opinions. Dpgcolorado above works WAY harder than I've been working, and he isn't paid a dime, so he's retired (and neither lazy nor selfish). I'm definitely lazy by comparison, but someone's paying me, so I'm subject to the selfish judgement. Of course no one would blink if there was no money involved.

Mr. J

I feel that if you want to be retired and are happy then does it really matter if people think you are lazy. I am 27 and am hoping to not have to work for anyone again in 10 years. I say do what makes you happy.


REtire whenever you feel the time is right. That is my opinion. I wish I could retire, but not sure I would have enough money to last as long as I plan to live. How do you gauge how much money you need for the rest of your life? Anther point: I come in contact with a lot of retired people in my work. Many of them seem bored and long for a job to give them a reason to get up in the morning. I have so many ideas about what I would do with extra time, I can't imagine getting bored! In a sense that is another type of laziness--to lazy to think about what to do with your day!


The commenter who said you are lazy is probably jealous of you.


Its your life, you do what makes you happy hon. I believe in living for yourself (as long as you're not hurting anyone else). Good for you for retiring at 40 it shows that it can be done in this day and age.

Retired Syd

@Jamie: I love when people call me hon.

Sandy @ yesiamcheap

Screw what anyone else thinks. You do what makes you happy. I'm 32 and I've been working since I was 15. If I could retire tomorrow, I would. And I wouldn't give two cents about what anyone else thought. I'd wish for someone to call me lazy at 40. Sounds like jealousy to me.

Accidental Retiree

Whatever you are -- selfish, lazy, or SMART! -- you sure know how to enjoy that leisure time. I see a beagle in the posted photo here.

My husband and I have 4 beagles, and one of the charms of also being selfish/lazy/smart is waking up and having them pile all around me as I drink my morning coffee. No hurry, no rush.

Another charm is being able to take all 4 for a walk whenever and wherever we feel like it, as long as our Bay Area weather allows.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences on your 'in retirement' journey.

Retired Syd

@Accidental Retiree: FOUR Beagles!!!! Wow, you are really a glutton for punishment, aren't you!


What if your father does nothing but watch tv all day, usually doesn't help my mother with grocery shopping or standard errands, and is always concerned about what the next meal is? My father has been retire for 3 years now and has no interest in hobbies or going out. I know this can't be healthy and have brought this to his attention many times but have been met with anger and adversity. It is very frustrating. How's that for lazy?



I'm sorry - it sounds like your father may be suffering from depression. Is there any hope of getting him to make a Dr. appointment to discuss?

For myself, I was a bit emotional my last week at work as I said goodbye to folks, but quickly moved to a place of extreme excitement and joy at being able to create a new routine that involved doing things I cared about, vs. what my prior company cared about. Which brings me back to my thought that your father may not have gone through this transition of finding new activities to replace the old.

Online Bingo

i have two points i'd like to make, first if you can afford to retire and you want to, you have every right to do that despite what people say, its not their business and uncalled for to call you lazy. second, i know many people who have jobs they absolutely hate, and it creates so much stress for them so if you find something you really enjoy, stick to it because it is fulfilling if you enjoy it!

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