How I Know I'm Ready to Retire

These are the important factors in my decision to finally retire.

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Older Man Gesturing
Alamy
By Dave Bernard

How do you know when you are ready for retirement? For some people reaching age 65 is a trigger for retirement, while others fall into retirement due to changes at work or a health problem. It can be difficult to know if the time is right to make the move into your second act. I have recently come to the realization that, for me, the right time to retire is now. Here's why:

The job. After more than 30 years of working in Silicon Valley, I think I am about done. Those 60- to 80-hour weeks that were and continue to be expected are doable when you are young, and the potential for big rewards keeps you motivated. But with the job you also have to deal with rush-hour traffic, the incredible stress and the demands that force you to sacrifice time with family. These days I am a different person. Although I can still do the job, I realize I do not want to. The demands are too high and my time with family and friends too valuable to give up for the sake of a job. The high tech world still excites me, but my drive and commitment is now focused in a different direction.

One aspect many retirees miss when they leave work is interaction with co-workers. The daily sharing of experiences along with the fellowship that grows while pursuing a common purpose is highly rewarding. But the thought of leaving this behind does not scare me. I enjoy sharing time with others, and find more than enough outside the work environment. Between get-togethers with the neighbors and dinners with friends and family, I am more than happy. Should I need more socializing down the road I can always volunteer at one of the worthwhile nonprofits or charitable organizations in our area.

Savings. I have done the calculations and analyzed the spreadsheets to understand what our expenses and income will be once we retire. I have tried to account for rising health costs, the possibility that Social Security rules could change and even expenses associated with nursing home care if we ever need it. And I have built into the budget a reasonable estimate for travel and having fun.

Although I cannot predict where the economy may go, recent events along with our age have taught us to be more conservative. It's difficult to feel certain that you have saved enough, but I believe we have. Should we need a bit more to fund a special trip or help make ends meet, my wife and I are keeping our eyes open for a part-time gig doing something we enjoy or for a good cause.

Priorities. I have learned what is most important to me at this stage in life is different from what was at the top of my list in earlier years. Back then I accepted that I would have to work long hours and spend less time with the family in order to pay the bills and get ahead.
Between college, orthodontists, cars and weddings, the list was both impressive and oppressive. But now with those events behind me, I find myself refocusing on new priorities in my second act. I want to spend quality time with my wife as we travel to places we have talked about for so long, both down the street and across the world. I do not need more things, as I have all I want. I know that good health is a blessing not to be taken lightly. And although I may have missed some time with my children growing up, I foresee in the not too distant future getting another chance as I take on the role of grandfather. I think I have learned what is important, and now is the time to take advantage of that hard-earned knowledge.

Overcoming my biggest fear. I have always felt one of the biggest risks of entering retirement is not having enough to do to keep busy, engaged and actively involved over the time ahead. In talks with many retirees over the years, too many find themselves bored with the tedious life they live once they retire. No one wants their retirement days to stretch painfully on. Fortunately, I have come to the conclusion that when it comes to staying active I have my bases pretty well covered. Here's how I plan to spend my days in retirement:

Blogging and writing. This passion of mine provides me with a means to express myself creatively as well as share my discoveries along the way to retirement.

Exercising and working out. I have been exercising regularly since I was a teenager and happily set aside an hour or more each day to stay in good shape. Fortunately for me, I enjoy doing it.

Discovering the neighborhood and local points of interest. My wife and I have picked the area where we want to retire. Our house is a short walk to a small downtown with numerous restaurants and a growing wine industry. We are near enough to the beach to visit for a cup of coffee at the local hangout. If it is too foggy, we can make a U-turn and head back to the sunny side of town. I look forward to exploring the sights and sounds of our new neighborhood as well as meeting some of the interesting locals I am sure inhabit the area.

Spend more time on the piano. I love to play Scott Joplin Dixieland Jazz, but need practice to keep my fingers nimble and do it right. What better time than now.

Get more serious about cooking. My wife and I plan to combine efforts to make new and tasty meals along with recreating family masterpieces we each grew up with.

Spend more time in the garden. We have a yard that will benefit from a bit of personalized attention. Between the roses, lavender and other flowering plants, we look forward to creating colorful and fragrant arrangements. We even have space for a vegetable garden. There is nothing better than picking fresh herbs, a ripe tomato or a crisp apple from your own yard.

Take time to do nothing. We plan to make our retirement a mix of action and relaxation. We have comfortable seats situated to view the nearby mountains and follow the descent of the sun as the day comes to its end. Or we can sit on the back deck and look into the surrounding oak trees that line the canyon below. I already have the perfect spot picked out for the hammock.

For my wife and me, this feels like the right time to retire. Now, we just need to make the move.

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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54 Comments

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patriot1too

It is best to retire as soon as you can. That way you will not be too old to enjoy it. Stay involved with volerteer work , hospince, charitys, Church etc. Maybe downsize. Put the little lady to work for a change. Enjoy life wore. Go to Church more.

February 19 2014 at 3:45 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
fred

I knew it was time to retire from the railroad when I saw that most above me could not switch a boxcar of bullshit out of a train load of perfume. The farther they were from the work, the more they could tell you how you should be doing it. I love retirement!!!!!!!!!!

February 18 2014 at 6:58 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
hsstempe

thanx to all the politicians who are the south end of a north bound horse, retirement only causes more grief. work til ya drop as there ain't nothin left after but old(er)age causing more grief. it's total horses**** to think retirement is it...how many times can you wash yer car, paint the house, trim the grass, plant roses, travel without going broke. ad infinitum....retirement is horses***!

February 18 2014 at 6:27 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
jack moroney

I thought 55 sounded like a good retirement age until I got there. I am now almost 74and still
working. I am fortionate that my work allows me not to be tied to a desk and that anywhere I am
is my office. I have noticed that folks who report to a facility everyday for their work life, cantt wait
to retire and plan for it for years.
Because of what I do, I have the ability to earn better than average and have lots of free time to
take trips, play golf and basically do what I want.

February 13 2014 at 6:37 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
wwhite1053

Well said

February 11 2014 at 11:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
toosmart4u

We can all end this by buying American. Greed has taken over everyone, from the big boss to the lowly line worker or the burger flipper at mcdonalds. So big business shipped off all our jobs and we as the citizens of this great country let them do it by buying the imported items. We have no one to blame but ourselves. Try buying american, it is hard. We have also lost our pride in America. tp USMC

February 10 2014 at 11:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
wfreeberg

Be aware that retirement is a bit over rated. If you loved your job, the challenges, the accomplishments, the coworkers, etc, you will have a hard time. This is irrespective of your financial position. I retired at 70, 18 months ago and am still transitioning. It's getting better but still a challenge. Every evening I have to ask myself, what positive thing did I accomplish today?

February 10 2014 at 11:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
xraybrain

LOL.......what retirees miss the most is "interaction with co-workers".

No thanks. I have had a lifetime of dealing with nut jobs at work. Everything from the sullen faced downer who could unpredictably wipe out the office in a heartbeat, the power hungry sociopaths, the narcissist, the sweet talker who stabs you in the back every chance they get, the passive agressive, the turn on a dime personalities that are calm one minute and tear into you the next minute. NO, no thanks. I'd rather live in one room and eat cold chef boyardee crap from a can in order to not have to go back to the working world

February 10 2014 at 7:16 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

Depending on a whole lot of things even saying when you might retire is just as unknown as the future. We can only say if .

Today everything is so expensive with the real costs driven by greed. Thinking you could retire is as doubtful as your employment security. Where do you see yourself 5 years from now is just as hard to answer thanks to the decline of the middle class via NAFTA and the other trade deals. Unreal productivity demands wear all of us out sooner causing more harm to us and the economy. The Greedy will never let us retire they'll just force us out and keep us from paying into the ssi fund or 401 k plans ect.

February 09 2014 at 6:20 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Lisa

How I'll know when I'm ready to retire?

When they slam the pine lid, otherwise can't afford to.

February 09 2014 at 5:42 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply