10/25/2013 07:07 am ET Updated Dec 25, 2013

Why Wait 'Til 60?

When it comes to retiring young and retiring overseas, you can't really expect a little help from your friends. Declare that you intend to retire young and/or move abroad, and your existing world will oppose you.

Take James, for example, a 60-year-old Chicago lawyer who last month decided to hang it all up and move to Brazil. As soon as word of his plan got out, a law firm a few floors down gave him a call. "James, meet us for lunch," they said. "We want to talk to you about joining our firm." James protested. He wanted to retire. He dreamed of Brazilian beaches rather than depositions.

But James took the lunch. The senior partner of the law firm told James he was nuts. "You're 60, James. Sixty is the new forty. This is your life we're talking about. You can't throw out everything you've achieved, everything you've worked so hard for."

James demurred and stuck with the retirement plan that he believed made sense for him. It hasn't been easy. James has had to continue to defend himself against those who prefer the same over change, comfort over challenge.

I agree with the recruiting law firm on one thing. I agree that 60 is the new 40, at least in the sense that those few who might have retired at 40 many years ago now will retire at 60.

And I think it's a shame to wait so long. Still, at 60 most of us have the time, vitality, and wherewithal to try something new and different. We prefer good days rather than a good income, free time rather than meetings.

My point is, no matter what your age, if you choose to retire young or to move abroad, you'll likely have to go it alone when making the decision. Friends and family will oppose you more than ever. But here's the good news: They'll soon get over it. Once they see how happy, normal, adjusted, and fun-loving you'll still be in your new life in a new country, they'll breathe easier.

And, these days, you can retire and move to Panama or wherever and stay in regular, even daily touch with friends around the world, thanks to Facebook, email, Skype, FaceTime, Whatsapp, Messenger, and more.

Figure out what brings joy to your life and go after it. Opt for a good life, not just a good job. Recognize that whatever you decide, you'll likely do it without a little help from your friends. People you know will oppose retiring early, moving overseas, and everything else you do off the main road. Let them know you understand their concerns. Then, follow through with your plan and take action on what works for you.

They'll come around.

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