I enjoyed this thread very much, as a person who's never had a full-time career; I've been lucky to have a spouse earning the bread, and I've worked part-time at very different tasks, most of which were not very financially remunerative (yabbah, that word always gives me trouble...reMuNerative or reNuMerative? my mind keeps asking.) I agree with Sandy....there's never any lack of things to do. The point is to also have enough in the bank to live as one wishes to do (also providing for a few emergencies along the way.)
Sometimes, the retirement can be thrust upon one. I'd like to share the experience of a very young friend of mine, Priyanka. She worked full-time for a (what else, in Bangalore?) software company until she was diagnosed with a hole in the heart, which could not be laparoscopically treated. Prior to surgery, she was also diagnosed with (I forget which type of) diabetes which had to be treated and stabilized. So...without any prior planning, it was a double whammy. She gave up her job, and the expenses, at the same time, shot through the roof. Even now, she has am injection each day, that is very expensive indeed.
But since she and her husband have always been "give back to society" people, she took all of it in a =most positive way. After she recovered from the surgery, she took up photography, which both of them were already reasonably proficient at; she did not have to invest in more expensive equipment. She cycled long distances. She'd always volunteered for several organizations, working with deprived children; she writes about recipes, particularly ones that she's developing for her present state of health.
Here's one entry from her blog, if you are interested.
She and her spouse help run a group that organizes screenings of ideology-based movies and documentaries every week in Bangalore. (It's called Khula Manch, and everyone is welcome to the screenings.)
She's probably 22 or 23 now. She's set such a remarkable example for me, and for anyone else, on how to handle "retirement". In comparison to her, those of us who can plan ahead for our non-corporate job careers are remarkably well off, I think.
Hats off to everyone who can turn their back on "careers" to pursue what they want to do. (Not everyone can, or should, do this.)
But a special tip of the hat who make the most of even the unexpected reverses in their lives, to do the same thing!