When should we retire?

by | Retirement

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.

No alt text provided for this image

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.

The unexpected

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.

Related Posts
Turning 60

20 benefits to getting older

Reduced fear of failure: With age, we often become more resilient and less afraid of taking risks or trying new...
Read More

We should act from compassion

There is something about spending time with Buddhist teachers; they radiate calmness and happiness.  I always feel more at peace....
Read More
Money Retirement

Getting your state pension

Early May, about 4 months before I reach my 66th birthday I received a letter, inviting me to claim for...
Read More
Inspiration Retirement Self-Understanding

Letting go ….

Do we need all our possessions? When we travel – do we travel light? We spend a lifetime collecting possessions....
Read More
Elderhood Longer Term

Life at 80 – how AI will change our future

Let's imagine my future. In less than 15 years I'll be 80! Introduction In the year 2038, as you turn...
Read More
Health & Wellbeing

Improving Health Span: The Key to a Long and Healthy Life

As I review the health chapter of my forthcoming book, I was reminded about the difference between health span and...
Read More

The Mental Health Benefits of Working Beyond Retirement Age

Retirement is often associated with a well-deserved break from work and a chance to enjoy leisure time. However, research suggests...
Read More
Positive Ageing

Positive Ageing

Positive ageing is “the process of maintaining a positive attitude, feeling good about yourself, keeping fit and healthy, and engaging...
Read More
Retirement Self-Understanding

What is a meaningful life?

A meaningful life can be defined as a life that has a sense of purpose, fulfilment, and significance. It is...
Read More
Elderhood Retirement

On turning 90

My mum has recently turned 90, she is now old-old. She is still living independently with the help of carers...
Read More
Ageism Health & Wellbeing Retirement

Stay engaged and involved to increase your well-being

Research from the Sloan Centre on Aging & Work at Boston College has found that when older adults are actively engaged in...
Read More

Do we need to stay working to maintain strong mental health?

I regularly read academic papers to ensure there is an evidence base to the work I do with my clients...
Read More

What makes you feel alive?

I’m just back from a 4 day music festival, the first for 3 years, Bearded Theory in Derbyshire. I was...
Read More
Inspiration Self-Understanding

Featured in the Daily Mail

There's a section, written by me, in the Daily Mail today, Thursday 12 May  - all about how to do...
Read More

The Deferred life plan

Life is for living; you don’t want to defer it until you are retired. I hadn’t realised that I was...
Read More

When should we retire?

It was so much easier in years gone by. Most people retired at 60 or 65. So you had a...
Read More

How to change your mindset to get a job in your 50s or 60s

Writing about retirement, I also need to consider ageing, we are getting older, and also work, people may want or...
Read More
Retirement Turning 60

7 great things about getting older

We can’t separate out ageing from retirement, we are getting older and moving into a different life phase. When young...
Read More
Health & Wellbeing Retirement

Glass half full – you will probably live longer

As we think about retirement, we also think about getting older. Whilst it would be nice to live to a...
Read More

Retirement as a Rite of Passage

There is a need to mark important transitions in life, retirement being a major one.  It used to be a party...
Read More

Let’s start to get to know each other.

I’d love to send you a series of articles to get you thinking of your wider life. You will also receive my mid-week 50+ update and the Amazing People newsletter.
Denise Taylor

Chief Inspiration Officer, The 50 Plus Coach.