Knowing When to Retire

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Choosing the time to retire is a key life decision that some people find extremely difficult. No doubt we can all think of someone who has stayed in the workforce a bit too long. There are a number of reasons why people can be reluctant to retire.

  • Worries about not having enough money to retire on – based on either real or imagined concerns
  • A lack of social connections and interests outside work
  • Fear of loss of status
  • Feelings of being indispensable or irreplaceable

These feelings can lead to people being trapped in a job they may not enjoy, while missing out on what could be the best years of their retirement. Being ready for retirement is not just about having enough money to retire. Retirement readiness is about being ready in all aspects for a new phase of life. That means having a plan to learn new things, connect with old and new friends, find ways to stay active and mobile and strengthen relationships with a partner and family. A Harvard University study on adult development conducted with 700 men over 75 years concluded that people who are more socially connected to family, friends and the wider community are much happier, physically healthier and live longer than people who are less well connected. People who feel securely attached to another person and can rely on that person to help them in times of need have their memories stay sharper for longer, while those without such connections experience earlier mental decline.

Staying at work provides a high level of social interaction, while retirement can lead to isolation. Preparation for retirement includes building social networks outside work, finding new interests to give purpose to life, and keeping physically fit. Retirement should be something to look forward to rather something to be feared.

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