The first question that most people ask me is, “when should I retire’? That is a very good and very personal question to answer. The average age that people are now slipping into retirement is 62. You qualify for Medicare at 65. And you may start collecting Social Security, without penalty, at 66. If you wait to collect Social Security until 70 you can benefit by receiving the highest level due you.

All of these benchmarks are just that numbers on a chart. The real answer is retire when you want to not when you have to. Don’t let father time come knocking on your door unexpectedly with your 3PM cake and ice cream in the employee cafeteria. Take control of your exit rather than the other way around.

But most people don’t retire on their terms. The top three reasons why people retire is because of a corporate realignment that does not include them. An unexpected health problem that makes retirement a very real solution. Or a spouse who needs them full time to be their caregiver because they have had an unexpected health challenge.

It is very interesting that the question I get from many people when they turn 60 years old is what should be my top priority? And I respond, “It’s time to shift from Wealth accumulation to Health appreciation”. After about ten seconds of shock because they were expecting me to tell them that money is what they need to focus on. They gently ask, “why health? If I don’t have enough money what will happen to me’? And I respond, “if you don’t take care of yourself you won’t need the money because you can’t take it with you”.

So before you retire yes keep saving but also begin a regular exercise and healthy eating regiment. The big trap people fall into when they retire is gluttony. The best place to catch a retiree, in the first year, after they have traveled and eaten their way across that landscape is in their living room. Sitting on their couch watching reruns of “Friends” while they munch on their favorite corn chip or some other high chloric tasty widow maker.

Lethargy is the most common pathway to obesity which is the most common affliction of retirees. Obesity in many cases is the birthplace of a number of cancers and other life shortening vehicles. A good 20 minute workout, just three times per week, that makes you sweat and gets that heart rate up will also do wonders for your metabolic activity which slows considerably as we age without a steady stream of aerobic exercise.

Many people fear retirement because they feel that it leads to disease, depression and death! Well yes it can. But a good alternative to the three D’s begins with a well-oiled cardiovascular system. Followed by a pleasing yet responsible diet, a good night’s sleep and a reason to get out of bed the next day. Sounds logical but so many people I speak with after a few years into retirement fall into this category of self-imposed exile from humanity.

That last part the having a reason to get out of bed the next day is the real secret to having a happy, healthy and fulfilling retirement. During our working years we forge a work related identity. This identity follows us for the majority of our adult lives. It’s their when you meet someone at a cocktail party, at your kid’s recital, at your cousin Joe’s second wedding. In many ways it is what defines us. So when you go from the world of work to your next station in life you need to have a station in life.

This is where having a Retirement Coach really comes in handy. We have the right battery of tests and know how to help you recognize the things that will help you to decide what I want to do not what I have to do. It is the want to do thing that will bring you the most joy and will keep you healthy, wealthy and wise.

Robert T Foley is a Thought Leader, Author, Blogger, Podcast Host, Speaker and “C Level” Coach in the emerging field of Retirement Lifestyle Planning (non-financial). He may be reached at and he invites all to visit his websites at and for more information.