If you are one of the many boomers who no longer love their job, the lure of not having to get up and go to work everyday can be very strong. You’re thinking about retirement more and may even have picked a date. Before you open the door to retirement, you’ll want to make sure you’re actually ready. Failing to do so can result in a bumpy transition and an unhappy retirement or worse.
There are a number of warning signs that should serve as indicators for you to proceed with caution when exiting your career.
- Money, Money, Money, Money . . .
Of course, the first thing people think about is whether they have enough money to retire. If you’re worried that you’ll outlive your retirement funds, you’re going to be stressed and not living life as you want.
Even if you have been saving for years and have a company pension, if you are carrying debt, financially supporting your parents or your kids, or wanting to travel extensively or buy a second home when you retire, you will need to review whether your retirement income can support the additional pressure. You may need to work longer.
Getting your financial portfolio in order before you retire will give you the confidence you need to make the leap and support the kind of retirement life you want. Working with a financial adviser will help you make an informed decision about whether you’re financially ready to retire given your current circumstances.
A big mistake people make is that they think retirement preparation is only about the money. Much of your happiness will depend on other factors, like:
- I had some friends but they’re gone . . .
If all your friendships and social outings are with work colleagues, it could get pretty lonely once you retire. Staying connected with work-related friends requires some effort once you leave the workplace. Being able to establish other common interests besides work is key. Look for hobbies/activities you share and enjoy. Participate in or organize activities outside of work, e.g. monthly games or movie nights, breakfast or walking clubs, or volunteer together with a charitable organization, ideally, before you retire. That will help you maintain the connection once you no longer work together.
You may also want to start looking at ways to expand your social circle and establish friendships outside your workplace. It’s more difficult to develop new friendships when you’re an adult, but not impossible. Join a club or a gym, enrol in a class, take dancing lessons, or whatever else tickles your fancy. You’ll find people who enjoy the same things you do and it is easier to develop friendships when you already share something in common.
Studies show 70% of our happiness comes from relationships. Another good reason to cultivate and keep them! Friendships also have health benefits. A meta-analysis of research on the topic indicated not having enough friends or having a weak social circle has the same risk factor as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It’s recommended you have five good friends that you can confide in.
The best way to ensure you are meeting your need for socialization is to maintain existing friendships or reconnect with old friends you’ve lost touch with. Make time to talk with them regularly – the experts recommend checking in at least every two weeks.
Finding the reason that inspires you to get up and provides you with a sense of meaning and fulfillment is your job in retirement.
- Take this job and . . . (you know the rest)
If you’re leaving work to get away from a bad boss/situation, pause. Retirement is probably not the solution to your problem. If you quit cold turkey, you’re still going to be unhappy.
Putting a plan in place – whether it’s a side business, encore career, or creating a bucket list, or a travel itinerary – before you jump is much more likely to result in a successful transition. Having something to go to vs. get away from will put you in a much better place to start this phase of life.
- You light up my life . . .
Even if you don’t like it, work gives you a sense purpose; a reason to get up every morning. And if you love what you do, leaving it behind can be devastating. Especially, if you are pressured to do so because your spouse or friends are retiring, or you are being forced out by illness or your employer.
We all need to feel like our life has meaning. That what we do is relevant and contributes in some way. Finding the reason that inspires you to get up, puts a spring in your step and provides you with a sense of meaning and fulfillment is your job in retirement. Retiring without a sense of what will provide you that needed purpose, could leave you feeling like your drifting aimlessly and result in health issues including cognitive and physical decline and even depression.
- Does anybody know what time it is?
You might not really care, at least not at first, but time can be a retiree’s dream or your worst enemy. Filling it can be challenging, especially if you don’t have a lot of interests or hobbies or participate in activities outside of work before you retire. Or friends to do them with. We can easily fall into a pattern of sedentary behaviour in front of screen, e.g. TV, computer, phone, Xbox, etc.
Work provides structure to your day and helps us manage our time. Without a schedule, many retirees become bored and feel their days are endless, or worse, meaningless. Putting some structure in your day by scheduling regular activities, especially those that provide physical, mental or spiritual stimulation, helps you manage your time in a fulfilling way.
These are just some of the things to consider before you decide to make your final exit. A well-planned retirement takes some work, but it’s worth the effort. It will give you the confidence that you’re making the right decision and the excitement you want as enter this phase of life.
We offer a variety of coaching programs and workshops for individuals, couples and groups to help you assess your readiness to retire and how you can create a smooth transition from the workforce or enhance your current retirement lifestyle.