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  • Writer's pictureNicholas Pihl

When to retire, even if you like your job

Updated: Jul 14, 2023

One of the top regrets of retirees is that they wish they'd retired sooner. This poses a conundrum for people who enjoy their jobs, particularly when they have the financial resources to retire at any time.

Ironically, because these folks can walk out the door and be just fine, they enjoy their jobs even more!

Yet, no one lives forever. I've noticed a startling difference in vitality between a person's early 60s and late 60s. At 60, many people seem comparably healthy to when they were at 55, and they implicitly expect the next 5 years to be similar, with minimal decline. That isn't necessarily the case.

To paraphrase Hemingway, getting old happens two ways, "Gradually, then suddenly."

"Suddenly" looks like waking up and realizing you're not able to do all the things you used to do. In fact, there may be some things you'll never do. The time for them has passed. Getting old "suddenly" can also come from serious injuries, heart attacks, strokes, or cancer. It is a risk that increases with age.

Whether or not you subscribe to the idea of a bucket list, there are probably some experiences you're looking forward to that will only get harder with age. Maybe you want to do some sightseeing in Europe (which means a LOT more walking than most of us are used to). Or maybe you want to take an RV trip around the US (which includes towing an RV for several hours a day). Even longtime hobbies like skiing or kayaking, working in your garden, taking long bike rides, or playing pickleball are subject to your health and mobility. Don't take this opportunity for granted.

When my clients are on the fence about retirement but are financially ready, I tell them something like this,

"We've discussed that you're safe to retire and that you're working for fun at this point. I have no problems with that. I think that's really cool. But my question for you isn't 'do you want to quit your job?' Instead, I'll ask you to consider, 'if you only had 6 years left where you could still do everything you wanted, are there things that you might wish you'd done, that you're currently not making time for because of work?'"

It's worth making a conscious choice.

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