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Why You Shouldn't Wait to Retire

Dave Bernard

Many people use 65 as their target retirement age. At that age you can begin to receive Medicare to cover your healthcare needs. However, most people now need to wait until 66 or 67 to collect unreduced Social Security benefits. And if you decide to call it quits at 65 you can expect to enjoy 20 or more years of retirement.

Today's 65-year-olds are largely healthy and likely to live longer than earlier generations. But that doesn't mean they're not starting to feel the wear and tear of an aging body and mind. And it is not going to get any easier. None of us will ever be any younger than we are today. Even if you don't feel old yet, you are growing older with each passing day. As your body ages your options to explore and experience new things tends to become more limited. Older adults just cannot do all the things they used to.

The first challenge of retirement is the transition out of the workforce. People who find what they do interesting and inspiring may choose to stay on the job and continue doing it for as long as they can. Or they might try to shift to part-time work and gradually phase into retirement. For other people retirement is a time to finally get away from all the stresses of the workplace and move on to something new. When the sole motivation for working becomes the paycheck at the end of the week, the promise of days far removed from the stress of work is a welcome sanctuary.

The lure of retirement can be a strong one. The sooner you retire, the sooner you have the chance to live a life doing what you really want to do. Before you can undertake such a move, it is important to make realistic and sufficient financial preparations to provide for the lifestyle you want to maintain. But once you are comfortable financially, you can flip the switch and transition into your second act. Here are some examples of what your retired life could be:

-- While you are still relatively young you can undertake the adventurous journeys you contemplated but never had time for while working. If you are able to retire with your health and stamina intact, you will be able to travel to off the beaten path locales you have only seen on TV. Get ready to break out the atlas and start planning

-- You are now free to custom design the ideal day. You make the rules and get to decide what activity to engage in and how you spend your time. Finally, you are in control.

-- You can more fully enjoy time spent with grandchildren as you endeavor to tire them out before they tire you.

-- Prepare to revel in your new job as a full-time retiree, a role from which you can never be fired. Leaving work behind translates into no more meetings, reviews, work stress or struggle to climb the corporate ladder.

-- You have the opportunity to explore your creative side. Whether writing, music or painting, retirement affords you the time to dream and create.

-- Since it is no longer about the money, you daily endeavors do not need to generate cash. You don't have to be productive every minute of every day unless you want to. Instead, you can do nothing for as long as you want and not feel guilty. You have earned it.

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have the opportunity to retire. Work will continue to be a part of everyday life for many people in their 60s. But for those who have their financial requirements in place, the thought of retirement and living the life you have dreamed about can be very tempting.

Dave Bernard is the author of "I Want To Retire! Essential Considerations for the Retiree to Be". Although not yet retired, he focuses on identifying and understanding the essential components of a fulfilling and meaningful retirement. He shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement-Only The Beginning.

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