How do I know if I’m ready to retire?
This question isn’t really about the financial aspects as much as it’s about the emotional or personal side of this equation. It’s not the side that gets talked about too much, but retirement is much more than a question of money.
Clearly, you need to ensure you do have a financial plan for the day you decide to take the retirement plunge. Assuming you have some idea of the financial situation in your life, let’s look at the other, more personal side.
The quick answer to the question is: Not if you don’t have a plan for the personal side of your life. Many people mistakenly think that the day of not working will be a glorious day. What’s not to like about not working? Actually, plenty. Up to this point in your life, your work has been the one, if not the primary source, of meaning and purpose. If you unplug from something that vital in your life, you have virtually unplugged yourself from life support. I’m not saying you have to keep working, but I am saying that you can only play so much golf and watch just so much daytime TV before you start feeling totally worthless about yourself.
There is not one aspect of your life that is not impacted or affected by retirement. It’s a huge social impact as it will impact your relationships with friends from work and probably your spouse or significant other, family and other non work friends. It impacts how you define yourself and how you find meaning. It means that you need to find something to spark your interest and imagination. You may expand doing some of the things you only got to do periodically when you worked. You will also find new things to do (hopefully). Your financial situation may be such that you need to continue to bring in some income for a while, so what might that work be? Even if the finances aren’t an issue, you may decide to work but in a different setting. Many people heading into retirement think about moving to be closer to family or in a geography that better suits them. Then there’s the issue of your health and fitness. You might have ignored that while working, but your excuse will be going away. You have to work at staying healthy as you age. Are you getting the drift yet? There are a lot of things to think about. There are things you need to spend time thinking and planning for. This isn’t a 2 week vacation. This is probably 30 years (give or take a bit). 30 years of your life is well worth the effort.
If you’re sitting there doing a self assessment and you’ve come to the conclusion that all your ducks are in order both financially and in your personal life, then the answer is: don’t wait. This will be the first time in your life that you have the freedom to really choose what kind of life you really want to have. So, don’t delay, your life is waiting for you.
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