Are you retired? Or are you still working? Or are you somewhere in between?
It seems to me that for some people, retirement is a lot like adolescence -- a time of great change and considerable confusion, especially when it comes to employment.
For our parents' generation, retirement was shorter and it seemed more clear-cut. You turned 65 and the boss gave you a watch and your pension and you went home. Today, it works that way less often. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2012, 31.5 percent of people age 65 to 69 were working and 17.3 percent of those 70 to 74 were still on the job. In 1990, 21.8 percent of people age 65 to 69 and 11.9 percent of people 70 to 74 were still employed.
Some people are working because their retirement planning was lousy -- no pension and their Social Security isn't enough. Others stay on the job by choice. They just can't let go.
I have an acquaintance who started his own company many years ago and grew it into a major enterprise. His wife wants desperately to cruise around the world before they are too old to make such a trip, but he refuses to retire. People ask him frequently, "We know you don't need the money, so why don't you quit?" His standard answer: "I can't retire. I don't know how."
I have another friend who retired from an executive job about a year ago, played golf for a few months and is now deep into building his own publishing business. He doesn't expect it to make him a lot of money: "$25,000 or $30,000 a year -- that would make me very happy," he says.
He's 69 and his wife is 63, an attorney and still practicing. They both made lists of places they want to visit after she retires, and they've narrowed it to a few overlapping spots. But in the meantime, she's not ready to quit, and he's not ready for her to quit, either. "I would go nuts if she retired and was here all day," he says.
For now, he's working on his new business and feeling better about himself. "I'm inching toward being semi-relevant again," he says. "Pretty soon, I'm even going to make some money."
Ready to quit? Here are six signs that you can retire early.