How To Know When It’s Time To Retire

By Yin Nwe Ko

Retirement is a significant milestone in life, marking the end of your working years and the beginning of a new chapter. Deciding when to retire is a crucial decision that should be made after careful consideration. Here, let us explore some key indicators that can help you determine when it’s time to retire.

Financial Readiness
One of the most critical factors to consider when thinking about retirement is your financial readiness. You should evaluate your savings, investments, and any retirement accounts you may have. Consider meeting with a financial advisor to discuss your financial situation and determine if you have enough money saved to support your desired retirement lifestyle. It’s essential to have a clear understanding of your income sources, expenses, and potential healthcare costs in retirement.

Age and Health
Your age and health should play a significant role in your retirement decision. While there is no one-size-fits-all age for retirement, it’s essential to assess your physical and mental well-being. If your job is causing significant stress or negatively impacting your health, it may be a sign that it’s time to retire. Additionally, consider any potential age-related health issues and whether your job is becoming too physically demanding.

Career Satisfaction
Do you still find joy and fulfilment in your work? Or has your enthusiasm waned over the years? Your level of career satisfaction can be a strong indicator of when it’s time to retire. If you no longer enjoy your job and it feels more like a burden than a source of fulfilment, it may be the right moment to consider retiring and pursuing other interests.

Personal Goals and Aspirations
Retirement is an opportunity to pursue your personal goals and aspirations. Consider what you want to do with your free time when you’re no longer working. Whether it’s travelling, spending more time with family, volunteering, or starting a new hobby, retirement should align with your personal desires. If you find that your current job is preventing you from achieving these goals, it might be time to retire.

Social and Family Considerations
Your social and family life is an important aspect to take into account when thinking about retirement. Consider whether your job prevents you from spending quality time with loved ones or participating in social activities. If you want to be more involved in your family or community, retirement can provide the time and flexibility you need to do so.

Your social and family life is
an important aspect to take into account when thinking about retirement. Consider whether your job prevents you from spending quality time with loved ones or participating in social activities. If you want to be more involved in your family or community, retirement can provide the time and flexibility you need to do so.

Job Opportunities and Market Trends
Assess the job opportunities and market trends in your field. If you find that there are limited opportunities for advancement or that your industry is evolving in a way that doesn’t align with your skills and interests, it might be time to consider retiring. On the other hand, if you are passionate about your work and see exciting prospects, you may choose to continue working.
Moreover, deciding when to retire is a significant life decision that requires careful consideration of various factors. Financial readiness, age and health, career satisfaction, personal goals, social and family considerations, and job opportunities all play a role in this decision. Ultimately, retirement should be a time for personal fulfilment, so make sure to align your retirement with your aspirations and desires. Consulting with financial advisors, career counsellors, and loved ones can provide valuable insights to help you make an informed decision about when it’s time to retire.
The above messages sound general and average people always consider them but there was an interesting article in the November 6th issue of The Wall Street Journal. My esteemed readers may assume and focus on the moment when it’s time to retire. This is as follows…
At 67, Kathie Davis liked her financial services job. But the demands were getting heavier, and life outside work was moving on.
“When do you call it a career?” she wondered.
Her finances were in order, and with friends passing away — including one just into retirement — she decided it was time. Still, when her last Friday arrived in June, she sat in front of her computer well into the evening, trying to convince herself to log off.
“It just felt like a part of my life was being cut,” she said.
Americans are working later than ever. The average retirement age was 62 in 2023, up from 57 in 1991, according to a Gallup poll. Many people simply don’t have the luxury of stopping, financially unable to go without a paycheck well after 65. Even when your retirement account hits its mark, deciding to close the book on your career can prompt existential questioning.
Wait too long, and you might regret the extra years you gave to work. Leave too early, and you could feel lost in your new life.
“Work in this society defines who you are,” says Louis H Primavera, a psychology professor at Touro University who studies retirement. “When you’re retired, you’re a ‘was.’ ”
Maybe it’s because, on the job, we convince ourselves we’re impervious to the passing of time. Work forms the scaffolding of our lives, and the end of work reminds us that the end of everything is coming, too.
Our longer lifespans have also changed the calculus. Retirement was once meant to be a brief respite between physically taxing work and death. Now it can span three or more decades. That alters what we can afford to do, financially and psychologically, say those who study longevity.
Clinging to your job forever isn’t the answer. Instead, experiment and adjust to find the moment that promises freedom and rest, not an identity crisis.
Try new activities — pickleball, Bible study, volunteer work — before you make the jump, to see what gives you a sense of purpose, Primavera says. Research shows too many empty hours can leave us miserable.
Consider ramping down slowly with a new role or creative pursuit. And talk to your family. Retiring at the same time as your partner, Primavera says, lets you formulate a shared vision for travel or caring for grandkids.

Redefine your identity
Start by listing six words that best describe you, says Teresa Amabile, a Harvard Business School professor writing a book about retirement. You’re a grandfather and a leader, outgoing and social. Consider how retiring might change that description. If being a salesperson is your most cherished identity, you might not be ready, Amabile says. Repeat the exercise every few months to see if your sense of self might be starting to shift.
Next, sketch out what Amabile calls a “life map,” labelling circles with different aspects of your day-to-day. (Think: spirituality, family, exercise, and work.) Are any of them in conflict?
“It’s a gentle way to realize this life suited me beautifully when I was 35 or 45,” Amabile says. But maybe, as work takes time away from your grandchildren or you have little energy for business travel, it no longer fits.
“You start to think, like, is this important? Is this the best way to spend my time?” says Tim Streeter, a 51-year-old former recruiting executive.
After being laid off at 47, Streeter interviewed for jobs at big companies, only to realize he couldn’t even convince himself he wanted them. Being let go had made him feel disposable and sceptical of the notion of company loyalty.
The Ann Arbor, Mich., resident opted to retire early, taking on the occasional consulting project. The math still sometimes makes him nervous, and his investment portfolio took a hit last year
Still, he figures he might as well live his life now — self-publishing the book he always wanted to write, jetting to Spain and Puerto Rico — and return to work later if he has to.

Create the next chapter
You don’t have to make a binary choice. You could taper or rethink your work.
“We’ve been trying to swim upstream, people at this stage of life, trying to pretend we have this boundless, youthful vigour,” says Marc Freedman, the 65-year-old founder of a San Francisco-based nonprofit.
Recently, he realized he was exhausted from years of putting in seven-day workweeks, administering hundreds of performance reviews, and prepping for countless board meetings.
Still, he didn’t feel done with the work. He split his job, sharing the chief executive role with a younger colleague. The move eased some of the pressure and freed him to focus on big-picture work.
“For a lot of people, they’re actually at a point where they’re about to do their best work, but society’s telling them that they’re done,” Freedman says of his fellow 60-somethings.
More than 40 per cent of older adults work or plan to work in retirement, a recent AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) survey found.

Picture your legacy
Greg Meluch, of Cary, NC, dedicated himself to coaching youth hockey in his retirement and wrote a memoir to pass down to his children.
After taking a buyout package at 55, he says he thought about obituaries, and how tributes for even the most dedicated professionals usually only include a line or two about work. Then he pictured himself in an elevator, chatting with a stranger for a couple of floors.
Did he want his intro to be that he was a sales and marketing executive — or that he was a husband, father, and hockey volunteer?
Nine years into retirement, he says he feels carefree like he did as a kid.
“Work for me is a four-letter word. It was good for what I needed it to be,” he says.
“But now it’s not anything that I want to be.”
In sum, the decision of when to retire is a deeply personal one, influenced by various factors that extend beyond mere finances. As highlighted in the real-life experiences shared in this article, it’s a decision that requires careful thought and self-reflection. The traditional notion of retirement is evolving, and many individuals are finding fulfilment in their post-career years by pursuing new activities, redefining their identities, and creating the next chapter in their lives.
The transition to retirement doesn’t have to be a sudden, all-or-nothing choice. It can be a gradual process, allowing you to explore new interests and responsibilities at your own pace. Whether you choose to fully retire, embark on a different career path, or engage in part-time work, the key is to maintain a sense of purpose and satisfaction in your post-retirement life.
Ultimately, retirement should be a time to rediscover yourself, nurture your passions, and reflect on your legacy. While work is an important part of our lives, it’s essential to remember that it’s just one facet of our identity. Your retirement should offer the freedom to embrace your true self and live a life that brings you happiness and contentment. So, when contemplating the moment when it’s time to retire, take a page from those who’ve found joy and fulfilment in their post-career years and consider what truly matters to you as you embark on this new phase of life.
Reference: The Wall Street Journal 6 November 2023

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