Emotional Retirement Decision

To retire or not to retire, 
That IS the question....

Do I retire or do I continue working?

Is this an emotional decision? Absolutely!

A few lucky folks can easily walk out that door, and never look back... they had employment issues, disliked their supervisors, didn't agree with the company's direction or philosophy, etc.

Maybe it was simply a job and they were eligible to retire, it's not an emotional retirement decision, and out the door they walked -- pension or not.

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Others were "forced out" for a variety of reasons: layoffs, downsizing, management decisions. These folks have to somehow make peace with not having made the decision themselves, and someone else forced them into retirement. That doesn't mean they "must" retire-retire, they can retire from that position, but may work part time, full time, or volunteer elsewhere.. just to keep busy and active. This is a VERY emotional retirement decision, as it's not your decision. There IS life after retirement!

Then there is me, and zillions of you out there -- who simply have to decide whether to Retire or not. Sounds simple when you are 30, 40, whatever -- but when it's YOU, and YOUR retirement, and YOUR life -- the emotional retirement decision is difficult!

Many of us have a hard time with this decision -- it is a very challenging time of life and time of life-changing options  that can impact the rest of our lives.

I personally struggled with the retirement decision for over three years... I tell folks I'm not sure if I'll retire in 2 weeks, 2 months, or 2 years, and I'm really honestly not sure. It's not financial - I am lucky enough to have a pension and health care (though the latter is never guaranteed for life anymore).

Here are a few questions that I might ask someone who is struggling with this emotional retirement decision (and my own personal answers to these questions):

Do you like your job? Are you helping society? Does your employer need you? Are you filling some purpose in your employment or community?

Yes, I love my job as I help people through the initial struggles of retirement decisions (yes, I do... and yet, I, myself, struggle.....how odd is that?)

Person by person, one by one, I walk them through the financial decisions of pensions, health care, Social Security, IRA's, etc. I've helped thousands retire and that feels good.

I also have guilt over those I might leave behind, if I retire, who have nobody to guide them, nobody who cares... and yes, I realize that Anyone, Anywhere, is replaceable.

What are the negative aspects of your work, your employer, your co-workers? Tell the truth, no sugar coating your job here... The grass is not always greener in retirement. 

I work in a political environment (don't we all to some extent?), and that's rarely a good thing. My department is, for the most part, for the employers benefit - and rarely do my co-workers think about the employees viewpoint. To me, this person is giving their time on this earth to support the employer. (Yes, I realize they get paychecks and benefits in return... but every employee should deserve some respect, regardless of the occupation). These are folks who bring their mind, souls, sweat and tears to the work place...

I have a list here on my computer, two columns, the positive and negative aspects of my own retirement... hey, do I hear you snickering? I really do!

I had to actually write them out, and have continued, now and then, for three years, to add to the list. It helps me focus on both the positive and negative of working and the concept of my own emotional retirement -- try it. Your own thoughts might surprise you!

WHY do you want to retire?

I've worked 35 years with the same employer, never taken a leave of absence, only once taken a two-week vacation, and I'm ready to take on new challenges in life... my websites!

WHAT will you do all day?

I know that I need to be busy... I'm busy as I work full time and do website projects after work and on the weekends, and I need to continue this into retirement.

I have plenty of hobbies. I've collected craft supplies for twenty years in the hopes of finding the time to create! Now, I can use my creative energies, finally!

I have websites that I absolutely love working on. They keep my brain challenged and I love the interaction with retirees and the retirement topic  itself.  

I may work part-time or volunteer for the church a few days a week, I honestly don't think I'll be bored... however, the initial depression that often follows right after retirement does worry me.

Are you financially ready for retirement?

Yes. WOW - I said it, I am..... Maybe.

How does anyone ever know they are financially OK for the rest of their life? I'm age 53 - If I live forty years, to age 93, maybe finances are tight -- my pension is stuck at a 40-yr-old rate, my savings long gone... but do I care any more?

Even if I'm lucky enough to have a 30 year retirement through age 83, am I ok? Who knows?

When is enough enough? You'll never know until life plays itself out -- what is your life expectancy (how long did your family members live? though that isn't necessarily the key), how long will you live (based on how you take care of your own health), what financial emergencies fall into your life, inflation, family... just so much more than we can hardly imagine.

Decisions, decisions... Emotional Retirement Decisions!

Update: It's now 2010, two years after this was written. I retired in April and haven't looked back. I am happy, I am content, and I am loving my retired life!

Update: 2012 here... so thrilled that I retired when I did and still not unhappy with my decision. I did realize, just quite recently, that 2011 was a big blur to me. I didn't accomplish much on my website, I kept busy and did little. How does THAT work? Not quite sure myself... on to more productivity in 2012! Wish me well!

Update 2013: It really took me 3 years to get into the retirement groove... and I KNOW Retirement. That doesn't mean it will happen to you, but I hope you benefit in some small way with my own rertirement decision!

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