Powerful Retirement Lessons: Inspiring Quotes from 7 Famous Retirees

Powerful Retirement Lessons: Inspiring Quotes from 7 Famous Retirees

Looking for some inspiration for retirement? Check out these retirement lessons that can be gleaned from the quotes of a diverse group of famous older people.
retirement lessons

The following 7 successful individuals shared wisdom that can help you have a better retirement. They also demonstrated that age is just a number, some of them reaching their physical, financial, and professional peaks well after traditional retirement age.

Andrew Carnegie, 1835-1919 — Retired 1901

Andrew Carnegie is one of the most famous — and arguably richest — business people in American history.   Born in 1835, he built a massive fortune through the expansion of the steel industry.

In 1901 at 66 years old, Carnegie sold his highly profitable holdings at a massive valuation.  His companies were sold for $480 million — a figure equivalent to 12 times the businesses’ annual earnings.

It is fairly unusual for a business person to retire.  Many continue to pursue for profit ventures. Carnegie, however focused instead on writing, activism and philanthropy.

Retirement Lessons from Andrew Carnegie:
The way to become rich is to put all your eggs in one basket and then watch that basket.

Retirement Lesson: Carnegie did not get rich by accident.  Building wealth and retirement planning takes focus and dedication.  Use retirement planning tools that let you track and manage your strategies.

The amassing of wealth is one of the worse species of idolatry. No idol more debasing than the worship of money.

Retirement Lesson: There should be a purpose for the money you amass — and for your retirement.  You might want to think about creating a “retirement manifesto.”

I resolved to stop accumulating and begin the infinitely more serious and difficult task of wise distribution.
Retirement Lesson: There is a huge difference in mindset between retirement planning when you are still working and amassing wealth and when you stop working and are using your wealth.  Be prepared to shift your perspective in retirement.

Louis Armstrong, 1901-1971, Never Retired

Louis Armstrong had a long vibrant career as one of our most beloved jazz musicians.  He recorded his best selling record in 1964 at the age of 63 and kept touring and performing all over the world until his death.

Retirement Lesson from Louis Armstrong:

Musicians don’t retire; they stop when there’s no more music in them. — Louis Armstrong

Retirement Lesson: Armstrong kept the music and never retired.  The lesson here is to figure out what gives you happiness and just keep doing it.  Explore 41 ideas for health, wealth and happiness in retirement.

Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957, Did Not Retire, Started Writing Her Series at 65

Laura Ingalls Wilder was born in 1867 in the Big Woods region of Wisconsin, the second of five children in a family of pioneers and settlers. Laura and her husband Almanzo began a farm near Mansfield, Missouri in 1894, where they had an apple orchard, raised poultry and dairy, and cultivated wheat. As Wilder became recognized as an authority in rural living, she was invited to contribute a column to the Missouri Ruralist at the age of 44.

The stock market crash of 1929 devastated the Wilders and their daughter Rose Wilder Lane, already an established journalist and travel writer. To generate some income, Lane and Wilder, now age 65, collaborated on a manuscript based on Wilder’s pioneering childhood. That manuscript eventually become Little House in the Big Woods and turned into a nine-volume series about pioneering life in the 19th century.

Wilder passed away at home, just days after her 90th birthday.

Retirement Lessons from Laura Ingalls Wilder

The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong. — Laura Ingalls Wilder
Retirement Lesson: If there is a lesson to learn from Ingalls Wilder and her books, it is perseverance.  When life doesn’t quite work out the way you think it should, you need to buckle down and figure out a new way forward.  Don’t quite have enough savings to retire?  You can work a little longer, spend a little less and more.
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The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong. — Laura Ingalls Wilder

Retirement Lesson: Focus on what is important to you and make sure you spend your time doing what matters.

Michael Jordan, 1963-Present, Retired: 1993, 1999, 2003, Future?

Michael Jordan may be the most famous retiree of modern times.  The guy has retired not once, not twice, but three times.  He retired in 1993 for the first time as the best basketball player of all time and then went on to be a professional baseball player and again as an esteemed basketball player.  He continues today as a successful business person.

My father used to say that it’s never too late to do anything you wanted to do.  And he said, ‘You never know what you can accomplish until you try.’ — Michael Jordon

Retirement Lesson: Michael Jordon is perhaps the greatest example of the success you can achieve in an encore career.  Many people these days retire, but then pursue a retirement job.  Continuing to work in retirement is a popular way to stay vital while continuing to help fund your desired lifestyle.  Learn more about retirement jobs.

George Burns, 1896-1996, Never Retired

Born Nathan Birnbaum in 1896, George Burns entertained in vaudeville, radio, film and television, working nearly right up to his death at the age of 100.

Burns underwent major heart surgery in 1975 but didn’t even consider retirement, saying, “The happiest people I know are the ones that are still working. The saddest are the ones who are retired. Very few performers retire on their own. It’s usually because no one wants them.”

Returning to the film industry, Burns won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance The Sunshine Boys and continued to star in films, perform live comedy, and write two best-selling books.

I look to the future because that’s where I’m going to spend the rest of my life.George Burns


You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.George Burns

Retirement Lessons: If Michael Jordon is the greatest example of thriving in a second career, George Burns is the poster child for someone who never retired.  His work just happened to be exactly what he loved doing and was probably one of the things that helped him to live such a long life.  Explore the many benefits of working past retirement age.

The Golden Girls, 1985-1992

Rose, Dorthy, Sophia and Blanche may be fictional characters, but they are probably the most famous retirees of all time and they certainly offered useful wisdom.

Retirement Lessons from the Golden Girls:

The older you get, the better you get. Unless you are a banana. — Rose (Betty White)

Retirement Lesson: As Betty White herself might say, don’t be a banana.

People waste their time pondering whether a glass is half elmpty or half full. Me, I just drink whatever’s in the glass. — Sophia (Estelle Getty)

Retirement Lesson: No matter how much you have — or have not — saved, make  it work for your retirement.  The NewRetirement retirement planner can help you with this.

Sophia, by placing this pearl necklace between my bosoms, does it make me look like I’m a sex-starved slut who is in need of a man to bed? [Sophia says yes.] Good, then pearls it is. — Blanche (Rue McClanahan)

Retirement Lesson: Intimacy does not end when you retire.

When you want something to happen, you go for it.  — Dorothy (Bea Arthur)
Retirement Lesson: Dorothy was arguably the most successful of the Golden Girls.  She owned the house where they lived and had a no nonsense attitude toward life.  Perhaps the best thing to learn from Dorothy is: “be capable.”  Learn more about how “Golden Girl” style house sharing is growing in popularity.

Sophia Loren, 1934-Present

While Sophia Loren is an acclaimed film star, she is probably most famous for being one of the most beautiful women in the world. At the age of 83, she remains a stunning and vibrant icon.

Retirement Lesson from Sophia Loren:

There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.  — Sophia Loren
Retirement Lesson: Never stop pursuing what is important to you.

Want More Retirement Quotes?

You’ll laugh (or cry) when you read these list of famous quotations about retirement.

Also, check out our other pages of retirement quotes: “More Funny and Inspirational Quotes About Retirement and Aging,” or “Retirement Sayings About the Pros and Cons of Retirement.”

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