I’ve been with the same company for the last 15 years and I’m nearing early retirement age. I always assumed I would welcome this but - like a dog finally catching that car it’s been chasing for years- now that the time has come, I'm getting cold feet. I feel like I’m financially ready, but my gut is telling me “Don’t do it yet”. My employer is supportive either way, although I sense some colleagues would welcome the promotion opportunities that would open up when I leave. What factors should I consider when deciding the timing of retirement?
Many people base their decision to retire solely on the state of their finances. If this isn’t a factor in your decision, congratulations, you’re among the lucky few. So, let’s consider the other factors.
First, I would promptly set aside whether your coworkers want you to hurry-up-and-retire-already for their own career opportunities. That’s understandable but I would not let that weigh heavily –if at all- in your decision.
Second, I would concentrate on what your gut is telling you. I believe in following one’s gut, but not blindly. For me, gut feelings are flags for things that should be examined. It’s your mind and body letting you know, “hey, you should pay attention to this”, dig on this spot, explore where these feelings are coming from and where they point to.
For example, you could be over identified with your professional-self and your personal-self may feel vulnerable without having a professional role. This is especially true if you have a fancy title or you think you’re somebody. It can be unsettling to become just one more retiree ordering the early bird special.
So, what’s the antidote?
Well, you should have the first year of your retirement life planned out as carefully as you’d plan a mid-career hiatus. Consider: Where you’re going to go everyday; who you’re going to hang with; what hobbies you’re going to pick up; which boards you’ll volunteer for; what causes you’ll join; what you’re going to wear and what schedule you’re going to keep.
I think once you have a clear picture of “who” and “what” you are going to be when you retire, perhaps your gut will feel more comfortable and instead of telling you “Don’t do it yet” it may tell you “What are you waiting for?”
Originally posted on HR Box.