When You're Retiring, Ask This Question

Richard Irwin |

Retirement planning does revolve around the dollars and cents, but there is another question that lies at the heart of retirement - are you retiring to something, or from something?

While this may seem like a strange question, it can help you to understand how to structure and spend your well earned retirement years.

If You’re Retiring From Something

When you’re retiring from something, you’re very likely burnt out from the workforce, and in general. You may have spent the last several years feeling this way. If your job requires extensive hours or travel, this may be wearing on you and you’re ready for a break. You may be experiencing conflict with your boss or coworkers, or feel like you spend more time at work than at home. These are all signs that you are retiring from something – you’re retiring to get away from a situation that you’d like to end. Your retirement plans are a relief from a situation in your life that is draining. Retirement often just feels like a way to escape from your current life and situation.

If You’re Retiring To Something

If you’re retiring to something, the work that you leave behind may have nothing to do with your decision, and in fact you could feel like you want to continue working but that you’re instead ready to focus your efforts on something different. You’re future focused on the next phase of your life – maybe you have plans to travel or begin a new hobby. Or, perhaps your retirement goal is to spend more time with your grandchildren or your family. You may even begin a new career, go back to school, or spend your time volunteering. Whichever path is right for you, when you’re retiring to something, you’re focused on what is coming next instead of what you’re leaving behind, and there’s no escapism involved in the reasons behind your retirement. Your retirement plans are giving you energy, instead of just being a relief from what is dragging you down.

What To Do With This Question

Now, what can you do with this question?

First, you need to be financially ready for retirement. Make sure that you understand your risk tolerance, goals and retirement timing before you determine a potential retirement start date. When you’re financially ready for retirement, and want to know if you’re retiring to something, or from something, move on to the next step.

Grab a piece of paper and try this exercise.

Write down the following questions:

1. Am I retiring to something greater than work?

2. Are there things I want to accomplish outside of my work?

3. Do I have other interests to fill my day?

4. Are there things that I know will bring great joy and satisfaction to my life, that I can’t currently accomplish due to the constraints of my job?

Think about these questions thoroughly and write down your answers. Take your answers that you’ve written down, and review them with your spouse, children or loved ones. Have a lengthy discussion and really listen to what those closest to you have to say about the matter. They have an insight into your work and retirement that is valuable because they see it happen and can see how your work and hobbies impact your happiness.

Think on these answers for a week, and then ask yourself this next set of questions.

1. Am I retiring from something?

2. Am I running away from a draining work environment?

3. Am I disengaged at work?

4. Am I contemplating retirement simply because I no longer enjoy my job?

Repeat this process by relaxing and writing down your answers. Discuss your answers with your loved ones, and take their opinions to heart.

Take your time to discover if you’re really wanting to retire, or if you’re just looking to escape. You may also be envious watching your peers retire, or you could be in the wrong line of work.

Retirement Is A Life Changing Decision

When you’re deciding to retire, it’s a decision that will change your life. So don’t make it in haste, and don’t retire just to avoid going to a job you hate or because you’re burnt out. Retire to a life that leaves you feeling more fulfilled.

Author: Andrew Rosen for Forbes