Usually it is a little of both (or for some a lot of both or either depending upon the person). For example, my father lasted only about 4 years 1980 to the summer of 1985 before he passed on. I believe he likely retired at 65 which would have been January 1980 or therabouts. He and I and Mom had built a retirement home on 2 1/2 acres he had purchased in 1968 and we and friends had built a home there from 1968 until 1980. However, most of it was livable by the early 1970s because the plumbing foundation walls and roof and flooring had all been installed in the main house by the early 1970s. We built this thing on weekends from 1968 to 1980 and he and Mom retired there in 1980. It was on Yucca Mesa near Yucca Valley which is about 30 miles from Palm Springs on the High Desert of Southern California next to Mt. San Gorgonio mountain which is the highest mountain in southern California at over 11,000 feet in elevation.
So, what I'm getting at here is: "Do you have enough money to realistically retire?" and 2: "Are you suited to retirement?" These are very important questions. Another thing I would like to share is almost everyone I know who is really functional still (mentally and physically) into their 80s or 90s usually works part time at their own business or part time doing some kind of work or charity work. This I have noticed a lot with people I have known since I had to retire because of health reasons at age 50 during my Heart Virus for about 7 months. My wife insisted I retire because she didn't want me to die when we had a 2 1/2 year old daughter to raise. Also, at the time we could afford to have me retire which makes quite a difference too.
So, for me, I would have to say that retirement (so far) has been about 80% or more a blessing. So, for me, retirement has been an almost complete success. But, this isn't true for many people.
If you are a plodder, or very attached to your old habits and not very adaptable, you might find retirement (even with enough money very difficult). Even in my case in retiring at 50 I found to be at first very strange indeed. I didn't quite know how to present myself to people as being retired at age 50. People mostly seemed kind of either very jealous of me or felt sorry for me. Both of which I found sort of strange to deal with.
However, my personal experience of retirement was of "The Leisure to Practice" which I had been praying for since about 1980 and this was 1999 in May when I recovered from my heart virus but had been forced to retire. While I had been at Stanford Medical waiting for electrical heart stimulation and an angiogram to diagnose and hopefully treat what was wrong with my heart I had made a pledge to God that if I survived this time (7 months of difficulty that I would start a blog "I now have 2" and have had at least one continuously since June 1999) and at that time I knew no one that had survived successfully a heart virus condition and didn't know of anyone either, doctors didn't even know that was what was wrong with my heart until through a process of elimination realized that was what it was. Most people not knowing what is wrong with them panic when they cannot oxygenate their blood through breathing when they pass out and this panic kills them. However, I had learned meditations that could disconnect me from this problem and refused to be afraid or panic so I lived to raise my then 2 1/2 year old youngest daughter.
So, though retirement I don't think worked very well for my father because he was more a workaholic, it works quite well for me in comparison.
Also, my father was a very gregarious person and a man's man and I think he needed the validation of the men he worked around to feel worthwhile. Whereas I'm not like that. I'm not a workaholic and I don't need someone telling me what to do all the time. I can think for myself and I'm an idea person. My father was an idea person too but he was raised (he was valedictorian of his High School in 1934) so his world was very different than mine that began around 1950 or so. So, my point of view was completely different than his in regard to what work was all about. Because I had had childhood epilepsy I had learned to work: Smarter not harder. This made me an idea person full time and I eventually became an entrepreneur and owner of many businesses as a result. So, for example, if you have both enough health and enough wealth and are an idea person, retirement might be one of the best things that ever happened to you under some circumstances.
So, is retirement a blessing or a curse? For me, it is mostly a blessing. But, you need to really think about whether retirement is going to help you or to hurt you. Some people retire and are gone within a year or a few years. But other people are happily retired and might live and be happy until 100 or more. It all depends upon what kind of person you are, how much money you have, whether you are alone or not, and what is most important to you.
However, the one thing I might say here that really is important: If you are going to retire the younger you do it: (between about 50 and 65) might be the best if you plan to retire because it takes a lot to get used to.
It took me at least 5 years to adapt to retirement and I would say my family and friends and having a blog to work on as a discipline and my daily spiritual practices and keeping active, walking and traveling have made my retirement a blessing for me.
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