Retirement. The word has traditionally represented a milestone for working individuals: after a lengthy phase of labor, one was rewarded with a new segment of life free from the responsibilities of one's vocation. As society has progressed, however, the concept of retirement has also changed, evolving to encompass much more than freedom from work. The elements of retirement that have been generally considered most important, financial security and leisure, have maintained their significance but are now accompanied by issues that reflect the population of today. Factors such as continued self-fulfillment, a sense of worth, social interactions, and intellectual stimulation have become equally as important. Life expectancies have increased, and the period of retirement has lengthened, presenting many retirees with unexpected challenges. Financial security and leisure have most likely been achieved, but what else is there? What can be found missing from the equation are components that have, for many years, shaped these individuals' existences. For physicians, an absence of the very valuable social, intellectual, and structural constants may be experienced. Lacking a definitive plan to address this possible void can lead one to feelings of insignificance and an uncertainty about what rewards retirement will afford one. Advanced planning can lessen the shock of the transition from the working phase to the retirement phase of one's life. Whether this is accomplished by choosing to continue one's career (albeit on a lesser scale), establishing a strong alternative social system, or developing self-satisfying and meaningful interests, a well thought-out plan can ensure that retirement serves its intended purpose of providing a rewarding chapter in the book of life.