This whole concept of so-called retirement has me fascinated.  I’m someone who likes to shake it up every few years and I’ve always embraced change.  My journey thus far usually found me focused for about 5 years and then when finding myself becoming complacent, I would ache to change direction.

I recently listened to my very first ever Ted Talk and was blown away by the topic because the speaker, Emilie Wapnick, pretty  much defines my life in a nut shell.

So, if I take the words of the Ted Talk to heart, I have to believe I was never meant to embrace the concept of retirement.  And by that I mean become complacent, not wanting to embrace what’s around the next corner in favor of a rocking chair and needlepoint.  That may not be such a bad thing but it would drive me into an early grave.

I don’t believe in regrets.  I made a few mistakes along the way but hopefully, I learned something from said mistakes which will help me (us) move forward from here. I feel as if I (we) now have the time to really get out there and embrace the unknown.

Thinking maybe I was alone with my wandering ideas, I went looking for the thoughts of the like-minded.  What I found, was pretty great.  In my search, I reached out to several couples, of a similar age, and I asked a few simple questions with reference to defining retirement. Here’s what they had to say. I think you’ll find inspiration in their words.

Meet Larissa & Michael ~

Larissa & Michael

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“We definitely do NOT think of ourselves as retired. To us, being retired means no longer needing to work to support yourself and your lifestyle. We’re not there yet—we still have to earn a living. However, we do feel we have “reinvented” or “ rebooted” our lives. 

We spent roughly a year planning our initial travels, which was a one-year round the world trip. We sold our house and moved into a rental property while we downsized, tidied up loose ends and planned our trip.

Travel is something that’s in our DNA. It’s what drew the two of us together when we first met all those years ago and what has invigorated us over the years. We also never did the proverbial “semester abroad” when we were younger, so perhaps we’ve always had to scratch that particular itch. 😉

First off, we don’t make anywhere near the amount we did when we were in the proverbial 9 to 5. But we learned pretty early on that a major component of supporting ourselves was learning to cut back on our living expenses. We are “location independent”— by not having a home base we are eliminating a major expense. Wherever we are is our only residence, so we are never paying for bills “back home,” such as an empty house/apartment, or an extra electric bill. Michael doesn’t even have a cell phone, which may seem strange in today’s ultra-connected world, but we’ve learned to adapt and don’t miss the extra cost.

Initially, we funded our travels from the proceeds of the sale of our house, which we had owned for 20 years. We do a fair bit of freelance writing, including a weekly travel column in The Philadelphia Inquirer.  That doesn’t pay ALL the bills (travel writing is hardly a “big bucks” profession!), but we are also building a business advising destinations and small travel businesses on communication strategies. We’re not living lavishly, but the experiences we’ve had are far more enriching to us than all the “stuff” we used to collect.

For several years we’ve joked that we’d become Greeters at Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, we learned recently that the “Greeter” position requires some seniority. So we may have to re-think that one.

I think these two stories (there are more to come) are inspiring; the way in which they define their journey and how they make it work for them.  And, really, isn’t that what’s key in this whole process?

If you are among the like-minded, or maybe just curious, head over to our recently launched Redefining Retirement permanent page, by clicking here.  We’ve created a go-to source of information on retirement trends.  Once on our new page, we’re hoping you’ll share your defined path by leaving a comment.”

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