Over the last several months, many of our clients and prospective clients have asked me the question, “How long are you going to be doing this?” In other words, when are you retiring? I seem to be getting this question more and more. I figure that it must be the color of my hair. It couldn’t possibly be my age. Well, this got me thinking about when I should retire. We help people get ready for retirement everyday but now several people have me asking the question, “When is the right time for me to retire?” So, like I typically do when I’m wondering about something, I start ordering books. This will certainly give me the answer. What I didn’t realize was that I found a book that changed my whole attitude about the big retirement question. Reading this book was an epiphany.
Mitch Anthony wrote the book: The New Retirementality: Planning Your Life and Living Your Dreams… at Any Age You Want. As Anthony states, “Retirement is an unnatural condition! Even if you can afford to retire, the worst thing you can do is withdraw completely from the track of relevance!” I started thinking about what I do every day and how much I love it, so I asked myself, “Why would I retire and give up something I’m so passionate about?” At some point, I’ll probably reduce my workload and slow the pace, but I can’t imagine doing anything else in life that I enjoy so much.
Most of the time, when people are contemplating retirement, their main consideration is whether they have enough money or income to provide for their retirement. Money is only a part of the retirement discussion but there are many other considerations a person should think about. You need to ask yourself, “What am I going to do in retirement?” Do you plan on golfing every day or traveling a lot? Maybe you want to take up bird watching. Will you spend more time with the grandkids or get re-connected with family and friends? Do you plan on stepping-up your volunteering? Maybe you want to start a new business or go back to school to develop a new skill. Or, maybe you just want to relax and catch up on your rest. Without question, money is important, and you need to be able to afford to retire but there’s a lot more to making the decision to retire than money.
If you’ve been working for 30 to 40 years, you need to ask yourself if this is really what you want to do. I feel that many workaholics have the feast-or-famine attitude. They work so much that they forget to live and as a result, they approach burnout and start thinking about the extreme; full retirement. While they’re working, they understand the benefits of a work-life balance, but they aren’t very good at it. One of the risks people have when they retire is they diminish physically as a result of an unfulfilling retirement. It’s really important to stay engaged and have a sense of being. Before you retire, have a plan. Get involved with a charity or the community. Maybe you will get a part time job. If you like your work, pull back on the hours you work and increase your flexibility to do other things.
In a Financial Research Corporation (FRC) study, the top four reasons people gave for continuing to work were:
- Staying healthy (90 percent)
- Money for extras (87 percent)
- Staying socially active (82 percent)
- The challenge (79 percent)
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that retirement isn’t a good idea. All I’m saying is to really think about the total picture, not just the money part. After reading Anthony’s book, it really changed my thinking. Retirement is not an all-or-nothing answer. After all, how much bird watching can a person do?