Setting goals and giving yourself sufficient time to reach them is essential to long term planning. This is especially important when it comes to retirement planning. Most people work because they need the income to make ends meet. Retirement is not some magical Shangri-La that falls from the sky when you reach a certain age. It is simply a period of time during which you don't work because you have sufficient financial resources to pay your way without earning a paycheck.
There are people who decide that they would like to retire at an early age. These individuals map out a strategy that will get them where they want to be when they want to get there, and they stick to it. For most people the best way to devise such a plan is with the assistance of an experienced retirement planning attorney.
Aside from the sweeping expertise that retirement planning lawyers can provide, they've also seen recipes for success come to fruition through personal experience. The strategies they suggest are not theoretical but proven in the real world.
You're free to do what a lot of people do and make no plans at all, expecting Social Security to take care of all of your financial needs when you reach a particular age. As of this writing full retirement age for people who were born between 1943 and 1954 is 66. It then goes up by two months per year until 1960. Those who were born during 1960 and after are eligible for their full Social Security benefit upon reaching 67 years of age.
There are two problems with this "strategy." For one, the average Social Security payout at this time is $1072, hardly enough to live on comfortably. For another, there's talk in Washington about cutting Social Security, and one simple way to do that would be to raise the full retirement age.
If you don't think you're going to be able to live on $1072 a month, and you don't want to work until whenever the government tells you you have to, you may want to visit a good retirement planning attorney sooner than later.