Let’s assume that you are in the wonderful place where the decision to retire is yours and yours alone. This decision is often taken for us — by employers forcing downsizing or lay-offs, by poor health, by working in an age-restricted industry. Sometimes a spouse or partner is creating pressure to retire — especially if that spouse or partner is already retired and is consciously, or unconsciously pressuring you to retire. Fortunately, many people don’t have such restrictions and, for them, the decision is sometimes harder — and sometimes much easier.
It’s harder because you have to take charge of an important aspect of your life and decide. The decision will not be made for you. The decision needs careful thought because it will be life-changing. Discussions with your spouse or partner, with close friends and with trusted colleagues may be helpful. Observations of the life styles of others in your network of family and friends that have already retired will provide information about life changes to expect.
It is easier because you are in control of the timing, the announcement and the date.
The timing has to work for you — perhaps you want to make sure that you complete certain career goals, to see your last child through college, or pay off some long-term debts. The timing has to work in terms of challenges you want to undertake and opportunities that are not available when you are obligated to a vigorous work schedule. You take control.
It’s also easier because you announce your retirement and you don’t face the shock of hearing that your company is closing or that your job in the company is gone. When you announce, you take control — and we all want control over our lives. It’s good for our mental and emotional health and will set a positive course on the retirement journey.
Finally, you choose the date. Maybe you want the summer off to spend time at the beach or to indulge in a passion for gardening or cycling or maybe you live in a climate where winter is unbearable and you want to make sure that you can migrate to palm trees, golf courses and warm breezes. Maybe you just can’t stand the thought of one more long business trip or another strategic planning cycle of another annual meeting. Choosing the date is another form of taking control and ensuring that you begin your retirement at a time when you can quickly start enjoying the next phase of your life.