We need to realise there is no golden age or time for retirement

Three weeks ago a dear friend was made redundant. She had planned on working full time for about another six months before retiring yet this new lifestyle had been thrust upon her unexpectedly.

She was very unhappy about it. While she had enough money to retire comfortably and live to be at least 100, she felt like she wasn’t ready. When I questioned her on why, she said because she read that working for 48 years was an ideal amount of time and the redundancy had cut that just a little short.

I can understand her feelings completely – a change that significant without warning is scary and change is something that we all struggle to deal with. But thinking about Heather made me believe that there isn’t really a “right” time for us to retire despite what the magazines tell us.

There’s no golden age, there’s no set amount of money you need to have before you make the decision final and there’s nothing that will completely replace employment. So why are we told to wait for that “right” time based on these things?

In Heather’s case, simply having a “right” time made her life more difficult than necessary when the unexpected redundancy came. So after thinking about it, I developed my own set of rules to help people find their own “right” time to retire.

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1. When you feel comfortable with your finances and lifestyle

When you are happy that you can finance your quality of life throughout retirement at a balanced level with some security for the “just in case” moments, that is when you should be comfortable with the idea of retiring. Not because an accountant told you about a golden number that your bank and super accounts should read. It should be an amount that suits you, your choices and the lifestyle you want to live.

2. When you have enough planned that you can relax while stay healthy and connected

Retiring and just doing nothing can be difficult especially if you suddenly lose isolation. If you have commitments that allow for you to relax and enjoy your newfound free time while keeping healthy, active and socially connected. Having an amount of commitments that suit you to regular exercise, social events and hobbies before you retire means you can have a happy transition.

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3. When you know how you want to spend your newfound free time

If you know that you want to give back and volunteer, if you know that you want to travel, if you know that you want to start a business venture or dedicate your time to a sport or hobby that you love, that is when you should retire. Retiring with no plan can lead to a lack of engagement, boredom and depression. By having goals and a list of things you want to do and achieve to give you purpose you will enjoy this new phase.

So when you’re thinking about retirement, don’t base your plans around someone else’s advice or numbers. Base your plans on what is right for you, base your plans on what will help you to find a lifestyle that is happy, healthy and gives you purpose.

How did you decide to retire? When did you do it and what factors did you consider when making the decision? Share your thoughts in the comments below…