June 13, 2014

Why You Might Not Want to Retire Early

Credit: James Barker
I’ve spent the last several weeks sharing some advice for you to consider if you want to retire early. So why in the world would I wrap up The How to Retire Early Series with a post about why you might not want to? It’s because there is certainly more to life than finances!

Most people work to provide a shelter over their head and clothes on their back. Some people hate their job, but they go to work every day anyway to make ends meet and for their family’s well-being. Some people tolerate their job, but they are ready to quit just as soon as they are confident that they are financially able to. Other people love their job, and truth be told, they’d be happy to keep doing what they’re doing long after they reach financial independence. I can respect being in all of these positions, but if you love your job, and you still get a lot of fulfillment and satisfaction out of doing your job, why quit? From a financial perspective, the longer you work, the better off you probably are, so why not? From a life perspective, if you love tennis and are still healthy enough to play, I wouldn’t think of telling you to quit. The same holds true for your job.

Related to finding fulfillment in your work is avoiding boredom. The clients I’ve helped financially transition into retirement often equate retirement to jumping off a moving train. I can imagine so. What will you do without all of those emails, voicemails, and staff meetings? Watching daytime television gets old in a hurry, and you can only travel so much, so I think it is important to have an actual plan in place to avoid boredom. Think back to what summer vacation felt like at times as a kid. In retirement, there is no “back to school” date. This is great news to some, and believe it or not, horrible news to others. If you’re afraid you’ll be bored in retirement, start exploring hobbies, social groups, and volunteer opportunities at your convenience while you’re still on the train and before you’re bored.

Before retiring, you should also consider your relationships with your friends and family. If all of your friends are co-workers and the thought of nine to five with your children or spouse is truthfully a little discomforting, you may want to work on the relationship transition before you retire. I can attest that most co-worker friends fade away once you become a few weeks removed from the workday grind. It's nothing personal - just the principle of being out of sight, out of mind. As far as family, I’m not a licensed counselor by any means, but going from seeing your family two days a week and at dinner to all day, every day, seems like it could be a challenge for both parties involved. (Hey. they have to get used to you being around, too!) Between my friends’ parents and the clients I work with, I’ve seen this transition go well, and I’ve seen it go terribly. I’m not suggesting you continue working to have co-worker friends and avoid your family; I am advising you to be cognizant of the relationship transition before you hand in your ID badge and focus on nurturing those relationships now.

If you’re still enjoying your job, but you do want to reduce your stress or workload, can you consult or go to part-time instead of totally retiring? If you’ve had more than enough of your current job, is there something totally different you can do to still earn a little income? Do you have a hobby that you could further embrace such as wood carving or craft making that could generate a little money for you? All of these strategies can help you retire slowly as opposed to all at once. This could help the financial transition, fulfillment transition, boredom transition, and family/friend transition be more gradual as opposed to night and day.

As people continue to live longer and longer, it’s quite possible you could spend more of your life in the retirement phase than you did in the working phase. This means you have to get retirement right, especially if you’re going to retire early.

If you would like to look at where you are now versus where you need to be to live the way you want to live in retirement, I’d be happy to sit down with you. If you have already retired but would like a “second opinion” as to how you’re doing, if you’re going to make it, and if there is anything you can do to enhance your retirement picture, I’d be happy to try to help you as well. In the meantime, I’ve got to get back to work so I can retire early myself! I’ve got a reservation with a beach chair many years from now, and I don’t want to be late!


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