How to Tell When It Is Time To Retire

If you find yourself stuck in the day-to-day grind of making a living, thoughts of retirement can be sweet. Imagine leaving behind the stress of the job and pursuing whatever interests you. You could start each day only when you are good and ready to. Picture the ability to set a pace that fits your mood and state of mind for that particular day. One day you may awake feeling like going at a mellow pace while the next you are energized and ready to check things off your to-do list. When you retire, you make the rules.

The move to retirement is a big decision, and it’s difficult to know when you are truly ready to begin your second act. You obviously need to have your financial affairs in order. Unless you plan to work in some capacity, you need to have enough saved to support the lifestyle you hope for over the next 20 or more years. True financial security is difficult to achieve given the volatility of the stock market and the unpredictable nature of our health.

And even if you do have a sufficient nest egg saved, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right time to retire. It is just as important to prepare for the non-financial aspects of your future. Here are some signs it may be time to consider retirement.

Your job takes more than it gives. Some people are fortunate to find themselves engaged in a career they enjoy. Each new day is filled with promise and challenge. There’s no reason to leave simply because you reach a certain age. But other people find themselves exhausted from a long and demanding career and tired of the routine they must drag themselves through every day. When a job is just about the paycheck the days can seem without end. Add in a few health problems and every day can feel like an uphill battle. In these situations you need to weigh the costs against the benefits of staying. The additionalDSC_0429 dollars earned are not always worth it. Staying at a demanding career beyond what makes sense could adversely impact your ability to enjoy retirement.

You cannot wait to explore new horizons. While some people find it challenging to stay busy in retired life, others cannot wait to pursue a myriad of interests. Freed from the endless hours spent at the office, they are ready to do what they enjoy most. Retired days offer the opportunity to revisit old hobbies and explore new interests. To-do lists can be filled with interesting and meaningful activities. Retirement can be a time to give yourself free reign to do as you please and pursue whatever interest sparks your curiosity.

You want to explore a different career path. Some people are happiest when they are on the job. They enjoy being part of a team, making a contribution and facing new challenges. For them, staying part of the working world is how they choose to live their second act. If you want to continue working beyond retirement age, this stage in life may allow you to explore a different career that is more in line with what you care about most or find most satisfying. If you could be doing whatever job you wanted, what would it be? Retirement could be your chance to fill in the blank.

You want to live an active retirement. You will never be younger than you are today. Now is the time to take advantage of your relative youthfulness. In later years, activities like travelling can become more challenging. If you want to live an active retirement, it’s a good idea to tackle the most difficult activities while you are still able to. Take advantage of being as young as you will ever be.

From my weekly blog for US News & World

Why Financial Security Is Not Enough

Many are convinced the secret to a successful retirement is saving enough money to build a sufficient nest egg that can subsidize life as a happy retiree. Financial pundits, self-assured magazine writers and industry wise bloggers tout the importance of getting to that right number to make your retirement dreams come true. If you save enough it will come. Although we can agree that money is an important ingredient, I fear this tunnel vision obsession is a mistake. Rather than guarantee that perfect retirement, it fails to address an equally important piece of the puzzle.

It’s not always easy to get a handle on living the retired life that is a best fit for you. Since the lifestyle you choose and situation you live is unique to you there is no formula or one size fits all solution to assure effective planning. It is up to each of us to do our due diligence and work through the specifics in hopes of coming to the best possible scenario that corresponds to our unique interests, passions and requirements. Enough money addresses part of the equation – agreed. But how do you prepare for the rest? What can you do to better assure you live a fulfilling and interesting and meaningful second act?

A reader of my blogs shares the challenge he faces doing his best to get ready for his nearing retirement: The interesting thing I’ve uncovered in my research is over 90% of the material out these is related to the financial aspects of retirement. Almost none of it deals with the soft issues, your emotions, expectations, and happiness in retirement. I take every opportunity to chat with retired folks to see how they are doing and get their advice and opinions.

Money is not the final answer. It can be a mistake to assume that once you have enough in the old bank account your retirement preparation is complete. There is so much more toHundertwasser Houses consider. What will you do to bring meaning to your daily life? How will you cope with the challenges that come with aging? What will you do to take care of yourself physically? How can you keep mentally sharp and engaged with life? What are your plans to integrate your new 24/7 life with your partner? Do you have enough hobbies and interests and passions for the coming decades?

I believe it is possible that having what you believe is a sufficient amount of money to live your second life might even lull you into a false sense of security. Let’s say you have enough to pay the bills and do what you want – excellent! That is a good start. You have the money and you have the time and for the first year or so you will probably stay blissfully engaged. Attack that to-do list, visit those faraway places you have patiently collected information in your bulging travel folder, spend time with your neglected hobbies, and just chill in the backyard. But what comes next? After the honeymoon period comes to an end and you stare down the road at 20 or 30 more years to entertain yourself, what is the plan?

The sooner we start planning the non-financial side of retirement, the better our chance to realize the life we have hoped for. One reader of my blogs comments: I am starting my retirement adventure on January 1st. It is clear that although I have financially planned for my retirement, I have not accounted for what I want to do. That is the challenge I am facing now. I just started researching the subject today and started a list of all the things that I can think of. I am up to 32!

It is wonderful to realize the importance of finding those “what to do” activities. But it is a bit scary the search has not started much earlier. If you are going to spend 20 years in retired living, shouldn’t you put in a proportionate amount of preparation? It is a mistake to put more time and effort into preparing for a two week vacation than into a two decade retirement. Don’t just hope for the best take action to make it so. I have been retired for one year and need some guidance on how to put passion into my retirement life’s goals and dreams. I’m floundering and didn’t realize I needed to plan for my new acquired uncommitted time.

Having enough money does not guarantee the retirement we want and hope for. Too much focus on finances can be a big part of people’s unhappiness. Living a happy retirement requires a balance between money and those equally important non-financial aspects of daily life. Take care of the essentials, but realize there is so much more to living happy. Remember time is like a coin – you can spend it any way you want but you can only spend it once. Enjoy…