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When is the Right Time to Retire?

Dave Bernard

Once we reach our 60s, most of us will begin to consider retirement. Some people may feel the need to exit the busy and often stressful business world, while others are full of creative ideas about what to do with newly available free time. Perhaps you're also ready to relax, take it down a notch and savor peace and quiet each day. These visions of retirement can be compelling reasons to finally exit the workforce.

But before we can begin our second act, we have an important decision to make. We need to commit to a time and date to pull the trigger and commence retirement. This important decision will impact the rest of your life. Here's how to decide when it's the right time to retire:

Examine your financial resources. The first and most obvious duck to have in a row when picking a retirement date is having sufficient financial resources to allow you to meet your obligations and provide sufficient leeway to live the retired life you want. You want to have enough money to pay the bills and still have fun. Without this prerequisite, retiring from the working world is not the soundest of decisions to consider.

However, once you feel you will be able to live off the income generated by your savings and investments, it is not necessarily the right time for you to retire. There are other considerations that might improve your odds of realizing a truly fulfilling retirement.

Develop a plan. For the next 20 or more years, you will be living this new chapter of your life. You need to develop a plan for how you will spend your time. Decide whether you want to relax and take it slow or fill your days with new and exciting activities. It can be helpful to your planning if you have an understanding of what you will do each day after you no longer go to work.

Coordinate with your spouse. Whether your significant other is already retired or still working, things will change when you retire. If your spouse is already retired, your presence will be felt 24/7 and you will need to integrate yourself into your spouse's world. It would be inconsiderate to expect your spouse to drop everything to accommodate you. The two of you can best get through this transition by trying to communicate openly, giving each other space to pursue individual interests and being patient. Try to be sensitive to each other's point of view. You have many years left together, so make the effort to get it right. It will be well worth it in the long run.

Schedule enough to do. Twenty years of retired life is a long time to just relax. Can you enjoy your day if there is nothing on the schedule, just relaxing in the moment? Decide whether your current collection of interests and hobbies will be enough to keep you busy. For most people retirement will be a combination of engagement and relaxation. The appropriate proportion depends on your personal tastes. If you are someone who is happiest when you have activities and projects, it can help to dedicate some time prior to retirement to defining what those may be once you retire.

Dave Bernard is the author of Are You Just Existing and Calling it a Life?, which offers guidelines to discover your personal passion and live a life of purpose. Not yet retired, Dave has begun his due diligence to plan for a fulfilling retirement. With a focus on the non-financial aspects of retiring, he shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement-Only the Beginning.

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