Retirement's For Old People

Last Updated Jul 3, 2009 7:01 PM EDT

In 2003 I announced my retirement from the corporate world. Not to anybody in particular, since nobody really cared. That is except for my wife, who cared very much that I was about to invade her space at home like a horde of marauding Huns.

I was only 46, but after 23 years in high-tech, including 10 as a senior executive and millions of air miles, I felt completely exhausted. I needed a break. A long, long break.

But my retirement wasn't my father's retirement. Within a year I had a consulting firm. A few years later I started blogging for CNET. Then came a book project and a new blog with BNET. Whenever I get a new consulting project my brain lights up like it's on fire and I'm suddenly full of energy.

I used to wonder what I was smoking when I dreamed up this idiotic kind of retirement - working my tail off just as I did before. Then I remember I didn't actually dream it up, it just sort of happened.

I think about the financial crisis, the haircut our investments and home valuation have taken, the uncertainty and almost certain inflation ahead. And I can't believe I had the foresight to stay engaged the way I did. Except it wasn't foresight, just dumb luck.

I see truly retired people giving blood at the Red Cross or taking their daily walks on the rural road where I live and work. They go on vacations, take up kayaking and yoga. It sounds great -- for them. But it's not for me.

I have a retired business friend named Phil. Phil has a lot more money than I have. He has three homes, including one in Paris. He once told me there are two reasons why people don't retire and they're both tragic: either they can't afford to, or they have no other interests but work. Maybe Phil's right, but when a friend recently called us both to get involved in his new startup, Phil's neurons seemed to light up just as mine did. And yes, he bit.

At this point, I'm still only 52, and I have no idea how long I'll go on like this. But I'm having a good time and besides, my wife loves it when I get out of the house and she has it all to herself, like the old days. So I guess, and this is definitely subject to change, I'll retire when I can't do what I love doing anymore, or when there's no market for it. Will I feel sad or fulfilled at that point? Your guess is as good as mine.