Many people view retirement like a cliff. It’s a big decision to jump and it looks mighty tempting and exciting! But, once you get to the edge and make the leap, it’s hard to turn back! Much of the reason it looks so tempting and exciting is we have been sold on the idea that we must retire, often at a certain age like 65- you must make the leap. Some industries and jobs include a retirement stopping point, whether by your choice or not- you are forced to make the leap or choose to make the leap. Make sure you know what you are leaping into!

For those considering retiring, I want to pose two questions to make sure you are retiring for the right reason(s) and not just because you think it is the right time or because coworkers or friends are making this transition. Everyone’s situation and thoughts around the topic are different and it is a very individual decision.

The two questions I’d like you to consider are…First, What are your retiring FROM? Second, What are you retiring TO?

Let’s consider the first question, ‘What are you retiring FROM?’ I start with this question because you already have this- a job, career, industry. If you make a change there is no guarantee you will be able to find something as satisfying, or with the same work relationships at anywhere near the same compensation as your current position. People often want to retire to get away from something…the politics, the commute, the boss, etc. You can fill in your own reason(s) why you might want to retire, and you may well create a compelling list. Are the things on the list really that bad?

However, what I would suggest is you consider what you might be giving up by leaving your current position…salary, benefits, other perks, colleagues (relationships), the challenge of your work, the contribution you make to the company or industry, your opportunity to mentor younger colleagues, etc. Create your own list of what you would be leaving behind at your current position if you retired. What does your list look like on each side of the FOR and AGAINST list?

Work also provides us with something that is ours- it should provide us with a feeling of accomplishment and contribution- hopefully that we are making a difference. If your job doesn’t give you these feelings, it may be time to consider finding a new encore.

Part of the decision to retire involves the financial side of the equation- do you have enough money saved to fund a comfortable retirement and to do the things you want to do? If you need to continue to work to have the desired income you need to live comfortably in retirement, how much do you need to make each month? If you need a substantial amount of money or would need to work only a few more years to fund your comfortable retirement, it may make sense to continue at your current position. If you need less income or no extra income in retirement, you have more flexibility to do something different, with possible less hours. But what would that something be?

Now, let’s consider the second question, ‘What are you retiring TO?’ If the list you created above is pointing toward retiring (not leaving much behind or are willing to leave these things behind), you now need to think about what you are going to do in retirement.

What I am primarily talking about is how you will occupy each hour of each day of each week of each month of each year. When working, much of schedule is dictated for us- we attend meetings, we work with colleagues on projects or problems, we assist customers or clients, we work with vendors and on and on.

When you retire, you are solely responsible for filling in what you do each hour of each day. Retirement provides a “honeymoon” period for many, but too often wears off as it becomes hard to fill the time, stay motivated and feel relevant and connected.

The other factor that is often missed when considering what to retire to is…’What will make you get up in the morning that brings meaning, purpose and joy to your life?’ If we do not have something that moves us to action, life becomes boring and stale very quickly. Retirees that I have worked with often enjoy the honeymoon period of retirement, but then reality quickly sets in and they find themselves bored and aimless, with little or no purpose, meaning or joy.

So, as you begin to think about retiring, remember to consider “What am I retiring FROM?” and “What am I retiring TO? What will you really miss about your work and are you willing to walk away from the mental and social stimulation? What will you do if you retire and what will continue to motivate you to learn and experience new areas of interest or perhaps something you were interested in earlier in your life? Retirement offers us a new chapter to explore, learn and continue to grow. Make the most of this time by considering the FROM and TO of the decision to retire.

If you would like some help answering these questions, please contact me to set up an initial conversation. My retirement coaching services help people plan for these seven non-financial aspects of retirement: Purpose & Identity, Values & Beliefs, Work & Learning, Health & Activity, Leisure & Travel, Family & Friends and Home & Location.