facebook twitter instagram linkedin google youtube vimeo tumblr yelp rss email podcast phone blog search brokercheck brokercheck Play Pause
How Do You Know If You're Ready for Retirement? Thumbnail

How Do You Know If You're Ready for Retirement?

We may be telling you that you have enough money to afford to retire. But are you ready psychologically and emotionally?

Here are some questions to ask yourself.

What is your vision for your next chapter? The traditional vision for life in retirement is a lot like a fairy tale movie – you are going to live happily ever after. The fairy tale life is a perpetual vacation for the next 30 years. The problem isn’t with the aspiration to live happily ever after. We all want to do that. The problem is the assumption that a perpetual vacation will make you happy. It won’t because it is unrealistic and when it ends you become disappointed, disillusioned, and directionless.

 You need to have a vision for retirement that is clear, realistic, and balanced.

Do you have a plan for how you are going to fill up your days? Most people’s “plan” is their bucket list – not needing an alarm clock, the trips they want to take, the books they are going to read, and the projects they have been meaning to do for a while. That’s great for the first several months, but what will your life look like when you have checked most of the items off your list? As a client of mine once said, “We’ve done everything on our bucket list, now what are we going to do for the next 30 years?”

You are probably spending 10 or more hours every workday just working and commuting. That means when you retire you will have a lot of hours to fill up even after you sleep in every morning. 

Often people’s plan to fill up those hours is to play lots of golf or walk the beach or do whatever you love to do on vacation. That’s great until hedonic adaption sets in. Our brains have this annoying habit of getting bored with things we really love to do when we can do them any time we want. When the novelty and sense of scarcity wear off, they lose their luster. We don’t enjoy them as much as we thought we would.

Without a plan for what you are going to do to stay socially engaged, mentally stimulated, and feeling like your days are meaningful, you are headed for problems.

Have you made a list of the things you will miss about working? It’s easy to identify the things you will not miss about working – the stress, annoying colleagues, long hours, dancing to other people’s agendas, just to name a few. 

But what about the things you will miss? We all get non-financial benefits from working that we don’t usually focus on. Your social interactions is often a big one. Then there is the feeling that your work is making a difference to your clients, the company, or your community. That feeling is more important to us than we may be aware of. When the feeling of making a difference is gone, it leaves a big hole. Feeling like you have accomplished something is another important one. It makes us feel good.

One of the keys to enjoying retirement is to find ways to replace the things you enjoyed for all those years.

Have you talked to someone who is flourishing in retirement? We all know people who are not doing well in retirement. What do you think is missing in their lives? On the other end of that spectrum, having a role model for what works can inspire you about what you need in your next chapter to flourish.

Have you done a formal assessment of your retirement readiness? An excellent way to determine if you are psychologically and emotionally ready for retirement is to take an assessment that produces a report that helps you answer the question. The newly released Retirement Intelligence (RQ) Assessment does a very good job of that. It is a framework for organizing your thoughts and feelings about yourself and retirement in such a way that you can see your strengths and potential disconnects across a variety of factors known to closely affect your retirement transition.

Ask us how you can take the Retirement Intelligence (RQ) Assessment.

Written by - Marianne Oehser, MM, CPRC Partner, Next Chapter Lifestyle Advisors