Has the Financial Crisis Changed Your Views on Early Retirement?

The other day I asked an associate, who was planning retirement last time we spoke, how that was going.

"Oh, you mean the "R" word," she said in a sarcastic tone. She went on to explain how retirement plan "A" was off the table and she was now working on plan "B."

As cryptic as the lingo sounds, I knew what she meant.

Five years ago, I retired from the tech industry after 23 long years and over 2 million frequent flyer miles. At the time, I was a senior executive at the peak of my earning potential. But I was exhausted, burned out, and felt as if I'd missed a lot that I should have been paying attention to in my personal life.

I didn't want to stop working; I just wanted to work for myself, on my own terms. A friend called it a half-time strategy. So I started consulting and writing, although that was more about what I wanted to do, not what I needed to do.

Now, that's all changed. Like everybody else, my investment capital has declined significantly. As a result, I'm finding that I have to step up my income, not because I want to, but because I need to. Fulltime employment and the solid, predictable pay and benefits package that goes with it, is looking better all the time.

I'm apparently not alone. While I have yet to see solid quantitative data, anecdotally speaking, most of my management associates and friends who had been considering early or not-so-early retirement have come to face the brutal reality that it's not going to happen the way they'd planned.

The comments I hear most are:

"Early retirement? You've got to be kidding. It's off the table."

"Looking at plan "B," which is plan "A" plus 5 or 10 years, if I'm lucky."

"Still planning early retirement, but I'll need some form of supplemental income."

"The financial crisis is overhyped. I'm still a go on plan "A."

Then there are folks who, like me, were looking for a midlife career change to try something different or spend more time with family, but are now reconsidering.

So I'm wondering, has the financial crisis changed your views on early retirement, and if so, do you have any thoughts or insights to offer your tired and stressed out management brethren?

Incidentally, here's a related blog post I found interesting: Quitting My Job, Retiring Early: 5 Steps To Lifestyle Change