It was so much easier in years gone by. Most people retired at 60 or 65. So you had a fixed date to focus on and this gave you time to get ready.
With the removal of the fixed retirement age, and with managers and HR reticent to discuss its all a bit vague.
Some people are counting down the days, others look forward with dread. If married or in a relationship you may want to coordinate dates so you retire together.
Did it help when there was a date?
I think it did, there was a countdown, you could begin to hand over work, not take on new projects and to think more about what you would do. And of course, there was the party to mark the end. And maybe you had a holiday planned.
Without a date it is down to you.
If you don’t have a date, what will you do? Carry on, day by day, week, by week, year by year … and when will you stop?
So, should you have a date?
A date does put a marker in the sand. It could be several years ahead, it doesn’t have to be in the next few months.
Some people say that you will know when it is time to retire, but I’m not sure that is right. It seems to be that when people have health problems that is the trigger. But if not … people just carry on, and at some stage move to part-time working.
Some people begin to hate their job, they have had enough – of the office politics, the travel, it is all getting to them. They no longer identify with their job, aren’t interested in ‘career opportunities’ and are just coasting, so they give notice ready to leave.
Other people don’t want a date as they have no idea what they will do next – and keeping working means they don’t have to think about this.
Not everyone has the luxury of setting a date
Last week two people, friends of my partner died, both younger than me. They never had a chance to retire. Whilst one knew his cancer was terminal, it still came quicker than anticipated. With the other person there was no warning, a fatal heart attack.
As you set a date here are just some of the things that you need to consider
- Getting clear on your occupational pension and checking out any old pensions from previous jobs so you know how much will your pension be
- Clearing any debts
- Clarity on how much and when you will get your state pension
- See if you will get any other financial support from the state such as pension credit
- Will you need to continue earning – how much do you need?
Psychological, social and emotional
- You must feel emotionally ready to retire. If you still enjoy your work, then why leave?
- We get a lot of our identity from our work so how you will define yourself?
- The freedom sounds wonderful but how will you spend your time and how will you feel? Do you have ideas of what? It could be travel, a new interest or a passion for something you have always wanted to do – such as buy a wood, work on the steam railway, write a book …
- You want to have more time just to be … you are fed up of being a human doing – a human being is the way to go.
- Consider how to expand your social circle, many of our friends are from our work.
We never know if we will have a major health problem, or the death and major illness of someone close. This may be the trigger to make a significant change. To give up work to care for a partner with a terminal illness, or to realise you can no longer do the job that involved a lot of stress. So any plans may change.
I’d love to know your thoughts on planning to retire
For me it will be a long transition phase where I continue to do some paid work alongside time to work in my wood, and time just to enjoy my wood – to swing in a hammock and drift. As a knowledge worker, as long as I have mental capacity I can work.
For a friend, who has a physically demanding job, and has recently had open heart surgery, his health will be a key driver. Both can he physically do the job but also major surgery can be the wake-up call to the rest of our life.