I recently met a person who was out of work in his early years due to disability. In conversation, he had gotten into the habit of telling whoever he met that he was retired. While I certainly sympathized for him and his disability, I began thinking... " what's retired mean?"
I've often shared with clients my definition of disability: "the ability to do what you want, where you want, when you want." Not a very technical definition or one you would find in the financial journals I agree, but from a standard of living standpoint, this is my feeling on the true definition. In order to fit into this definition, it does take one thing for sure- to have the financial means to accomplish the task. Generally speaking, retirement means you are not working or bringing in wage income and don't expect to ever go back to work- you have to depend on income from various sources to make ends meet. Income may be sourced by many ways: interest, dividend or investment income, disability payments or SSDI, Social Security, annuitized payments (payments that give you a pre-determined income amount monthly for life or a pre-determined period of time) inheritance, lump sum distributions for various reasons, and many other means. The biggest difference is that retiring the old-fashioned way, by saving scrupulously vs. money coming in via other means. For most of us, saving for retirement means, or meant taking a portion of our weekly or monthly income and squirreling it away for "the future" meaning we reduced the amount of money we had to live on currently by the amount we put into saving. We sacrificed. We went out less, took less vacations. We diligently saved, period after period... and hopefully, we either are on track to retire, or have already done so. The big question I ask you- have you taken the time to congratulate yourself for a job well done? Have you taken the time to set back and look at your accomplishment and progress? I met an elderly gentleman early in my career and had a conversation that I remember like it was yesterday. He was well into his 80's, or perhaps 90. "Neal" he started, "do you know what the problem is with the youth of today?" Being somewhat younger than I am today I still knew it was a loaded question and waited for his sage advice. "The you of today are so focused on attaining and gathering acquisitions, they spend no time enjoying the acquisition. They toss it aside and just look for the next one. Do yourself a favor: when you work hard to attain a goal, take some time to sit in it and celebrate it. Don't just toss it aside." It takes work to get wherever you want to go... don't be a no-go. You can't go back to make up for lost time.
It was 35 years ago, and I remember it like it was yesterday. So, my friends, I ask you... when was the last time you can say you stopped to celebrate that which you have achieved? Do you too toss a hard-earned acquisition or goal aside and immediately work on the next, or just take it for granted? Maybe it's time to stop and congratulate yourself on how you worked and sacrificed and saved for your goal of retirement, or a second home, or a classic car. Give yourself some credit for the sacrifices you weathered to go for the brass ring. You earned it... bask in it. Better yet- take the day off and go play golf! See you on the tee!