Supercharged Retirement: Ditch the Rocking Chair, Trash the Remote, and Do What You Love
(Formerly Bold Retirement: Mining Your Own Silver for a Rich Life)
"GIVING UP WORK"
“Giving up work,” is a uniquely personal decision. It is also a uniquely complex one. The ramifications affect every single area of your life—from the obvious ones like finances to the less apparent ones like health and relationships.
In terms of cold cash, working longer is a financial hat trick. You have more years in which to save for retirement. You have fewer years where you will have to live off your savings. And you will be able to draw a larger payment from Social Security once you enroll. As a bonus, you can also keep your healthcare coverage longer. But at some point, it’s time to stop.
Sometimes, this moment is defined by external forces. Per AARP, forty percent of us will retire unexpectedly, either because of health problems or company changes. You might be caught in a downsizing or a “realignment of business.” You might be in the perfect position to sell the business you’ve built at a handsome price if you act immediately. You might be forced to retire because you’ve reached a mandatory age. External forces make the initial decision easier—often it’s not even yours. But the work to get it right once you go over the cliff is the same.
But what if this is your decision? No one is pushing you with a RIF or a buy-out or a management shake-up. You’re just starting to feel “It’s time for something else.” How do you decide if you are ready and if you really want to?
The first issue is, of course, the economics. Do you have enough money? There are enough books, seminars, and consultants to work through this question 12 times over. So we will not dwell on it here. But it is the initial deal breaker. You have to have enough to live on. If you are mortgaged to the hilt, have credit card debt that will take years to pay off even at your current income level, and no plan for a “retirement” career in place, you need to keep doing what you’re doing. Or else find other, satisfying work you can continue to do on a fulltime basis. If you do have enough money, the question becomes do you WANT to retire?
The first branch on that part of the decision tree is do you like what you are doing? Does it still excite you? Is it an area you could do until the very last day of your life and feel good that it was how you spent all your time? If the answer is no and you know you can retire if you want to, maybe it’s time to graduate to something that’s more fun, more interesting, and leaves you more on fire at the end of the day.
If the answer is yes, then on to the next question. Is the outfit you are currently working for the place to do this work? Is it supportive? Do they appreciate what you can do and give you the chance to do it well? Do you feel like you are working to your full potential in the assignments you’re given? If the answer is no, then it may still be time to retire, but to reinvent yourself in the same field in a way that gives you more room to grow.
The next question considers the context you’re working in. Are the company you’re working for and the work you are doing for it stable? Is this job going to be around indefinitely? For example, the options markets are moving toward electronic trading. If you make your living in open outcry activities in a trading pit, don’t bank on having the same job for another fifteen years. If you love what you do and who you do it for and the situation is not going to change anytime soon, you don’t need retirement, you need to play the lottery. The vast majority of us are not that lucky."
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