Should I retire?

Mark and I have written about aspects of retirement on many occasions over the past three years which we have published on this blog, Realise Your Dream.

For regular readers, you will recall that we have defined retirement at that stage of life when we can finally do what we want to do – and not what we have to do.

Although, even in retirement there will be occasions when we have to do some things we would rather not – like going to the dentist to have a root canal sorted out, or having a colonoscopy.

Mark so aptly describes retirement as ‘my time’.

In a couple of weeks, I will be celebrating an interesting milestone in my working life. On 12 December, it will be exactly 50 years since I first started working. And just in case you were wondering – I started working when I was very, very young.

When you get to my age, it is fairly common for people ask me when I intend to retire.

The truthful answer is ‘I honestly don’t know’.

At this stage, I still enjoy getting up and going to work each day. I really enjoy the work I do and the people I get to engage with on a regular basis. I have met some wonderful people and got to travel to some amazing places, all in the name of work.

So, while I enjoy my work I am going to just keep on doing it. Why change?

However, I must admit that I do think about retirement from time to time, and there are those moments when the thought of not having to sit in front of a computer all day looks attractive. But the feeling soon passes.

As we have said in previous articles, retirement requires careful and well-thought-out planning. It is not something that should be rushed into blindly.

The most fulfilling retirements I have observed are those where people have planned out what they want to do. It doesn’t mean having to plan every moment of everyday in minute detail (although, do I know at least one person who does that) but having an idea of the sorts of things you would like to achieve in retirement and a deciding on a rough time frame is important. Whether retirement includes travel, ongoing education, voluntary or community work, or pursuing a hobby or business endeavour, they all require some planning.

On the other hand, the most unfulfilling retirements seem to be those that are devoid of plans. They not only erode the will to embrace life but sadly, contribute to a decline in physical and mental health. The term ‘grumpy old men’ (and women) springs to mind.

While it is great to be able to plan ahead and call all the shots on our terms, that is not always going to happen. Occasionally, life throws a curveball that catches us off-guard. We may find ourselves leaving the workforce as a result of circumstances over which we have little control. Perhaps we are unable to continue to work as a result of sickness, or we are made redundant, or a change in economic or family circumstances impacts our business.

Even though we may not be able to control these situations, having a contingency plan in place may help to minimise the disruption that an unplanned exit from work life may inflict.

As retirement will last 20 to 30 years for many Australians, investing some time in planning sound like a perfectly sensible idea to me.

What do you think?

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