There are good reasons to retire and bad reasons. In this episode I talk about a few of the most common bad reasons to go into retirement.
Listen to the episode and read the transcript below. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions.
Welcome to another edition of ‘Financial Transitions.’ This is Robert Pagliarini.
Imagine it’s your wedding day. You’re standing at the altar looking at your lovely future spouse. You’ve prepared all night by writing your vows, and now it’s time for your soon-to-be wife or husband to read them to you. They look, gazing into your eyes, and they say, ‘You know. I’ve been thinking about getting married for some time, and I’m doing it because (I don’t know), I figure it’s probably about that time that I should. I don’t really know what to expect about marriage or you, really. All I know is that I’m just a little bit bored, you know? I’ve been single for years and decades it seems, and I just need a change. I’m just not as fulfilled as I want to be, so I figure, everyone else is doing it, so I might as well give it a shot too. I mean, really, what’s the worst thing that could happen?’
Imagine, your future spouse read and said that vow to you. How happy would you be? How excited would you be? Of course, you probably wouldn’t be that excited. You want your spouse to look at you and say, ‘You know what? You are the best person I’ve ever met. I love you so deeply. I can’t wait to be your spouse. We’re going to have an amazing life together. I can’t imagine living without you.’ Of course, that’s what you want to hear, and that’s what you should hear when you’re getting married. But, too many people approach retirement the other way. On this episode, I want to talk to you about a few reasons why you shouldn’t retire.
The first one is that your spouse is retiring. Now if you’ve listened to my other podcasts, or even watched the webinar I did on retirement satisfaction, you might hear that and go, ‘Well, hold on Robert. You said that one of the things that increases retirement satisfaction is when you and your spouse retire together.’ And that’s true. I did say that. I didn’t just make that up.
I’ve got 22-23 years of experience working with retirees, but even more so than that, it’s more than anecdotal evidence. There’s been research that’s been conducted that has concluded if you retire with your spouse (or approximately at about the same time), then it leads to retirement satisfaction. But this does not mean that you should just retire simply because your spouse is retiring. Sometimes, it makes sense for one spouse to retire before the other. It might be due to a layoff, unemployment, a health issue, a restructuring at the company, etc. that your spouse needs to retire. But maybe you’re not quite there yet. Maybe you’re not ready. Don’t just retire simply because your spouse is retiring. That is not a good reason. It is a reason, and along with other reasons, it may add to the scale for you to retire now, but if that’s your only reason, don’t do it. Hold off.
What’s another reason to not retire? Well, this is a big one. If you’re bored. Maybe you’ve been working the same job at the same company at the same address with the same commute every single day, and you’ve been doing that for five years, 10 years, 20 or 30 years. Although that’s not that common anymore, usually there’s more turnover, but regardless, the point is, you’re just bored. You’re bored of work. You’re bored in life. You don’t have that spark like you used to, so you say to yourself, ‘Well, I guess I’m getting older. I’m bored doing what I’m doing, so I guess it makes sense. I should probably retire.’ NO! That doesn’t make sense. It feels like it makes sense, but it may not be the best decision for you. Retiring because you’re bored is not a good reason. Typically what happens when you’re bored in life – and yes, you may be bored at your job – but if you’re bored now, chances are when you retire, you’re still going to be bored.
I want to encourage you to think about retirement differently. Don’t think that your life is immediately going to change for the better. If in life now, you’re kind of listless and bored and ho-hum, then as soon as you retire, it’s going to be this amazing thing and you’ll have this amazing life in retirement. That’s not how it works.
Think about this – again, going back to our wedding analogy. Imagine that you’re not married, but you have a partner (boyfriend or girlfriend), and the relationship is okay. You’re kind of bored with each other. You don’t have that spark like you used to. Maybe you don’t even love the person much, and you’re not getting along that well anymore. You’d rather be doing something (anything), than be alone with that other person. Do you think it makes sense then to get married? No, of course not. Simply getting married or being in retirement doesn’t automatically change your life. Changing your life for the better takes effort and work and energy and planning.
So, if you’re bored now when you’re working, that’s not a good reason to retire. What you need to do is figure out why you’re bored. Maybe you need a change of career, maybe you need a change of scenery, maybe you need to work for someone else. Maybe you do need to retire, but before you do that, if you’re bored now, start putting in the work, the investment of figuring out what your life would need to look like, what you would need to be doing day in and day out in retirement for you not to be bored. Don’t wait until you’ve retired to start thinking about that and having that conversation with yourself. Do it now. Do it before you retire.
Okay, what’s another reason? Well, I guess this is similar to the last one, and that is if you just don’t like your job. You don’t like it. Maybe it’s not so much that you’re bored, it’s simply that you don’t like your job. So does that mean that you should automatically just retire then? Probably not. What I would consider if you don’t like your job is to figure out what aspects of your job you do like. Is there anything about your job that you like? Anything at all? Surely there must be something about your job that you like? What I would encourage you to do is figure out what those areas in your job or industry are that you enjoy doing. Is there another career track that you can take? Maybe it’s just the company that you work for. You like your industry, you like what you’re doing, you just don’t like the company or the people that you work for. Fair enough. Yes, you could retire, but if you still enjoy aspects of what you do, you like the comradery, find another company that values you more. That would be my suggestion. Just because you don’t like your job is not an automatic reason to retire.
What else? You don’t like your job? Well, maybe you don’t like your boss or coworkers. In other words, you don’t like the people that you work with. Again, that’s not just a blank check for you to go ahead and say, ‘You know what? I’m going to retire. I don’t like my boss. I don’t like my coworkers. I’m just going to retire.’ That’s not a good reason to retire. What I always focus on when I’m working with retirees is that retirement should not be something that you’re pushed into. Retirement should pull you into it. What I mean by that is pre-retirement, you shouldn’t be in a situation where you just don’t like your job, don’t like your life, and you just sort of feel compelled that you have to do something else. It’s much better (and research shows that you’re much happier in retirement) if you feel that you’re being pulled into it, like there’s this wonderful thing that you want to be doing in retirement; this wonderful life that you’ve thought about, that you’ve designed, is calling your name, and you’re being pulled toward it. That’s a better retirement. That’s a better predictor of retirement satisfaction than just sort of not liking where you are now or not liking the people that you work for.
Related to this is another reason not to just jump into retirement: because you want some kind of a change. That doesn’t make a lot of sense either, does it? Again, maybe you’re bored or you’ve just been doing the same thing for some time, and maybe you like the people you work with, but you just feel like you need a change. Fine. Great! It’s okay to want to change, but being in retirement is a huge decision that it’s very, very hard to go back on. Think about it: if you’ve worked for 20 or 30 years in an industry, and you decide to retire, and you’re retired for six months or a year or two, it’s really hard to undo that and go back into the industry and try to find another job.
What’s another reason not to retire? Another reason would be that you feel unfulfilled or a bit agitated or you just feel lacking mission or purpose to your life. Again, this is very common throughout all stages of life, that maybe you just feel like things aren’t clicking. You don’t feel like your life has a meaning or a purpose about it, there’s no mission to it. But if you’re approaching retirement age and you start to feel this way, what many people do is they think to themselves, ‘Well, I guess this means I need to retire.’ And maybe it does, but I would caution you and say, ‘Do some work first before you make that very big decision.’ If you lack a sense of meaning or purpose or responsibility, and you’re feeling a little bit agitated or just out of sorts, you need to put in the work before you retire. Otherwise, you’re just going to take all of that baggage, and you’re going to bring it into retirement – and that’s not how you want to start you retirement. So, put in the work, figure out what it’s going to take in your life for you to feel like you have a mission, like you have a purpose, like every day there is a reason that you wake up and there is something that you need to do. There needs to be things that fulfill you, things you’re looking forward to. Don’t just go into retirement hoping that that happens, because it doesn’t; it won’t. The best retirements are those that are designed, those retirements that are planned, those retirements where the people really think about how they want their life to look. Ask yourself, ‘What is going to make me fulfilled? What is going to make me happy?’
A couple of other things before you decide to retire. In addition to doing this introspection and trying to design your lifestyle in retirement, trying to figure out what it is that’s going to make you happy, you also need to do some financial retirement planning. Too many people just jump into retirement thinking it’s going to work out financially. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t, but I’ll tell you this right now. I’ve been doing this for over two decades, and I can tell you that if you spend a little bit of time, a little bit of energy, either doing it yourself or working with a retirement financial advisor, figuring out where you’re going to be financially when you retire, you are going to be better off not only financially, but you’re going to be better off emotionally, because as soon as you jump into retirement, your life changes overnight. Not only does your day-to-day life change overnight, but your finances change overnight. The income that you were getting is turned off. You no longer have a source of income. Think about that for a second. You’ve been working for 20 or 30 or 40 years, and every couple of weeks or every month you get a paycheck; money is flowing in. As soon as you retire, that paycheck stops. That can cause a great deal of anxiety, trepidation, insecurity, and so the idea of doing financial planning for retirement is that it gives you a sense of financial confidence. That financial confidence will help you sleep better at night, and even more importantly, it’ll help you enjoy your retirement more, because when it comes time to take that cruise or travel or buy that thing you’ve always been thinking about buying, if you know that you’re okay financially, you’ll be able to enter that transaction feeling better about it. You won’t feel guilty, you won’t be afraid, you won’t be worried about it. You will be able to enter that transaction and be able to enjoy it, rather than fret about it. So make sure that you’ve done some retirement financial planning. Make sure that you can afford to do it.
Okay, so there are a lot of reasons not just to jump into retirement. If I’ve stressed anything during this episode, I really just want to share that what’s important is for you to really think about and design the ideal retirement. Don’t just let chance happen and see what your retirement looks like; you could do that, and maybe it’ll work out, maybe it’ll be fine, maybe you’ll be extremely happy. But I can tell you this: you will have a much better chance of success in retirement if you spend some time thinking about it, if you spend some energy really focused on what is going to make you happy, because there’s a traditional view of retirement. The traditional view of retirement is one where you relax, sit on the beach, and retire. Think about what retirement means; the base word of retirement is retire, which means to stop, to withdraw, to cease. So, it’s okay to retire from a job, but I don’t want you to retire from life.
My view of retirement is that it should be an adventure. It should be something that is the greatest decades of your life. It’s not one where you’re stopping or withdrawing or disconnecting, it’s just the opposite. It’s one where you’re starting, where you’re engaging, you’re connecting, and yes, maybe even taking more risks. It should be an adventure. And I know for some people out there, that’s not their view of retirement, and that’s fine, it doesn’t have to be yours. That’s just my own view, but if that view of retirement, one where it’s an adventure, where it’s exciting, where it’s the best years of your life, if that’s something that resonates with you, I would encourage you to check out my new podcast, it’s a different podcast than this, it’s a slightly different take: it’s called ‘Rage Against Retirement.’ What does that mean? Well, the whole idea is that we’re raging against the traditional view of retirement: the one where it requires you to step back and withdraw from life. If you’re interested in having more energy, more life, more zest, just more fun in retirement, where every day is an adventure, I encourage you to check out that podcast.
Until next time, I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of ‘Financial Transitions.’ If you ever have any questions or any ideas for topics for this podcast, please let me know, go to the show notes, you can see a link on how to contact me directly. Take care.