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 a diverse group of famous older people.
retirement lessonsThe following seven successful individuals have shared some wisdom with the world that can help you have a better retirement. They also demonstrated that age is just a number. Some of them reached their physical, financial, and professional peaks in life well beyond what we think of as the traditional retirement age.

Andrew Carnegie, 1835-1919 (Retired in 1901)

Andrew Carnegie is one of the most famous – and arguably richest – businesspeople 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 his 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.

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

Retirement Lesson: Carnegie did not get rich by accident.  Building wealth and planning for retirement 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 is more debasing than the worship of money. -Andrew Carnegie

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. – Andrew Carnegie
Retirement Lesson: There is a huge difference in mindset between retirement planning when you are still working and amassing wealth versus 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 the world’s most beloved jazz musicians. In 1964, at the age of 63, he recorded his best-selling record. He kept touring and performing all over the world until his death.

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

Retirement Lesson:  The lesson here is to figure out what gives you happiness and just keep doing it.  Here are 41 ideas for health, wealth and happiness in retirement.

Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957 (Never Retired)

Laura Ingalls Wilder was born in 1867 in the Big Woods region of Wisconsin. She was 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. At their farm, they had an apple orchard, raised poultry and dairy, and cultivated wheat. Wilder was recognized as an authority in rural living, and she was invited to contribute a column to the Missouri Ruralist when she was 44 years old.

The stock market crash of 1929 devastated the Wilder family. To generate some income, Wilder, now age 65, and her daughter collaborated on a manuscript based on Wilder’s pioneering childhood. That manuscript eventually became “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.

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 and spend a little less.
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)

Michael Jordan may be the most famous retired person of modern times. Jordan has retired a total of three times.  He retired in 1993 for the first time and then went on to be a professional baseball player again. 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 was an entertainer who worked in vaudeville, radio, film, and television. He worked nearly up to the day of his death at the age of 100.

Burns underwent major heart surgery in 1975. But he 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 in “The Sunshine Boys.” He continued to star in films and perform live comedy, in addition to writing 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 a great 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.

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 empty 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.

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.

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