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Redefining retirement
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For instance, a retirement survey of boomers, recently conducted by Merrill Lynch, states that, "Yesterday's retirement model of decades of entitled leisure is being rejected. Boomers aspire to a new retirement that includes work, albeit with a new work/leisure balance."

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Buried in the prose about how boomers will reinvent themselves in this next phase of their lives is this revelation: Boomers don't want to "make the financial sacrifices today that a traditional leisure retirement requires."

So boomers will revolutionize retirement by ... continuing to work! How's that for an awesome retirement strategy?

We have so many options. We don't have to retire at 65! We can work longer if we don't have enough money. Because we have so many choices!

It might be noted that this survey about boomers reinventing themselves concludes rather predictably that it's important to contact a financial adviser. "These survey findings tell us that now, more than ever, there is value in having an ongoing relationship with a financial adviser who knows you and the goals you have for yourself and your family."

Redefining retirement
Still, the concept that boomers are transforming retirement seems to have taken hold like wildfire in a drought. In a recent issue of The ASPPA Journal, a trade publication for retirement-plan professionals, the editor wrote that boomers "will likely redefine retirement. Many of my contemporaries talk about 'slowing down' someday, hoping to work part-time at something -- perhaps a new career or a passionate interest. Some dream of a 'cyclical semi-retirement,' rotating periods of work, travel, education and leisure time. Don't expect these boomers to just sit back and grow old!" she says.

In a way, it does seem to have certain appeal: to be productive, to see the world, to learn, to remain mentally challenged. Why not romanticize our predicament and delude ourselves into believing that this is what we choose to do?

And as if on cue, a new book just came out called "Get Inspired to Retire," co-written by two VPs of Van Kampen Investments. It's not really a financial book, though it does address money issues in various ways. The book purports to offer a "holistic approach to retirement needs." The introduction sets the tone:

"Age 65 no longer means mandatory retirement, out to pasture and into a retirement home. Studies show that many Americans actually choose not to retire, whether for financial or other reasons. ... 'Get Inspired to Retire' will help you see what some of your options are and the role they might play in fulfilling the next adventure in your life. Armed with such insight, you can learn how to make the choices that are right for you."

Actually, this book is a rather clever concept with no obvious agenda. It's a combination how-to, self-help, travel-guide, catalog of life. It's just the perfect book for boomers to contemplate the last stage of their life -- the one that comes right after figuring out what we want to be when we grow up. That's something that, I confess, I have yet to figure out.

Next: "Sweet freedom might be tomorrow if you make it a priority."
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