Red Question Mark

When to retire?

Tracey Columns

Dear Tracey,

Here’s a question for you. When should I retire? I know you can’t really answer that but can you point  me in the right direction?

I’m single and content, no husband to worry about. I think it would be nice to have more time and energy for my grandchildren. I’d like to have the afternoons to attend some of their after-school activities. But I sure don’t want to put any pressure on my kids to help me fill up my time.

I’ll have a good pension and Social Security so I’m not extra worried about money. It’s just that I’m 66 and I can’t imagine working too much longer. I have a nice job but it changed so much last year — different responsibilities and not ones I particularly enjoy. Heading into work feels like a chore. However, I work with great people. We are a close group of friends so it helps balance the drudgery.

But I know there has to be more to life. I just go round and round over this. Is there some quiz I can take to help me decide?

Going in Circles

Dear Reader,

Knowing when to retire is one of the most important decisions we make in our adult lives. No wonder you are going in circles.

Some people find this decision easier to make because they have a clear vision of doing something, anything, other than putting in 40 hours a week at a job. However, on the face of it, you don’t seem to have any pressing needs to make this dramatic change. While it sounds like your job satisfaction has taken a hit, the friendship of co-workers makes showing up at work more worthwhile. And other than wanting more time with your grandchildren, you don’t seem to have any burning desires that you’re itching to pursue.

But two of your statements really jumped out at me. First you wrote: “…heading into work feels like a chore.” This sentiment is worth paying attention to! Typically, one of the main things that propels people into retirement is a less than satisfying employment.

You also wrote: “ … but I know there has to be more to life.” Now this sounds like someone who is ready to make the change! There’s a pulse in that sentence, a low-level recognition that you want something else.

Here’s an exercise for you. Stop all logical and rational thoughts for a moment and have some fun. Write down all of the things that sound enjoyable to you. And please, no judgments or comparing yourself to others. Your ideas don’t have to be wildly adventuresome but then again, they sure can be. This exercise is about getting behind your hesitation and perhaps, your fear of change. It will help you identify what appeals. It’s just a beginning, a way to open yourself up to possibilities.

Once you have your list, sit with it for awhile. Re-visit it periodically then narrow it down into activities you might like to pursue. For example, you may write down that touring Europe would be a big thrill but the reality is you’re uncomfortable traveling alone. Guess what? There are companies that plan tours made up of just single women. In other words, hopefully you’ll begin to realize that you do have interests. It’s a matter of incorporating them into your retirement.

The other area I suggest you concentrate is your social life outside of work. Before you retire, try to cultivate a few more connections with people other than co-workers. Add some volunteer experiences, consider joining just one group that interests you. This way, when you walk away from your job you won’t be faced with overwhelming solitude.

Finally, if you simply can’t get beyond the indecision, check out additional resources on the internet or consider seeing a life coach for a few sessions. A neutral sounding board can be really useful when making big decisions. Best of luck!

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