Updated: Dec 15, 2021
Being ready for retirement involves more than a retirement calculator
Over the course of my career I spent a ton of time thinking of what the next phase would hold for me. Mostly I wondered where I wanted to be living and how I wanted to be spending my time not focused on a career. As my thinking evolved, several initial plans were discarded because I learned more about the practicalities and realities of those first ideas. For example, I idealized the prospect of retiring to a condo in Vancouver and actually invested in a terrific property in downtown, only to sell it 15 years later because I realized the cost of living was not supportable. However, that investment contributed heavily to my ability to “relaunch” in my late fifties.
Having a variety of interests helps in the transition to retirement
I also developed a diversity of interests during my career that were unrelated to my work and those interests are evidenced by the focus of this blog – travel, gastronomy, fishing and exercise. I worked hard to cultivate outside interests so that having more time would not come as a shock. I have been surprised how some former colleagues could not let go of their profession when the time came, whether planned for or not. It is not uncommon to continue to identify with the professional persona as opposed to being able to accept “being retired”. To me that suggests a lack of preparedness for the next phase.
For the transition to be effective, it is very important to prepare your self appropriately and ask yourself the following questions:
Do you have enough hobbies and interests cultivated to sustain you for a few decades of having more time on your hands?
Will you remain motivated and engaged in the day to day without deadlines or a barrage of phone calls and emails?
Which social network will you transition to? Do you even have one outside of work?
Are you emotionally ready for retirement?
The financial planning is very important, but it is not the only consideration in a “relaunch”. There is an emotional component that may be even more important than being able to sustain the transition financially. Every candidate for retirement has a number in mind, but how many have an appropriate scenario in mind? You should ask yourself if you are satisfied with what you have accomplished and retiring for the right reasons. I think these considerations are underrated in their importance for a successful emotional transition to the next phase. Even more underrated is a consideration for how this will affect the dynamic at home – are your spouse and/or children ready as well?
Imagine the prospect of having to be forced into the transition by your employer before you are ready. I have also seen many professionals nudged out of employment and unprepared for how to react. In my mind it is better to prepare and transition on your own terms. Try to envision a life without the career and build on outside interests and a social network long before that transition may occur, whether on your own terms or on those of an employer.
I was fortunate to have some enlightenment on these issues in the run up to my “relaunch”.
But I didn’t have the entire scenario appropriately thought through. Being lucky enough to retire early (i.e. before the age of 65) has implications for health coverage. If you work for a robust company, you are likely to have a reasonably good health plan that is subsidized by your employer (albeit possibly eroding or becoming more costly to you). Navigating the national marketplace for private insurance is daunting. There is not a lot of literature on this subject for someone under 60 years of age - I suspect that is because there are not a lot of early retirees.
Hopefully these thoughts contribute to your ability to effectively “relaunch”. Upcoming will be my thoughts on how to stay relevant and avoid feeling like ‘yesterday’s news’ during the next phase.