Before you Retire

Random Observation/Comment #328: I’ve wanted to retire before I even started working. Maybe it’s the sign of an entrepreneur…. Or laziness.

walking the path

walking the path

So you’ve worked your whole life and you want to retire. How do you know you’re ready?

I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, and I think the main factor is financial stability.  Just as important is the second factor: “What do I do with all that time?”  I’ll talk about retirement activities in the next blog entry, but let’s focus first on answering a few key questions:

Financials: These questions will give you an idea of how much you’ll need saved up to stop working at your regular job. You can, of course, still make money on the side with your hobbies.

  1. How much have you saved?
  2. How much do you spend per week?
  3. What is your monthly income?
  4. From those 3, calculate your budget for leisurely expenses: travel, hobby items, dinners

Activities: These questions are made to answer what you would do with your free time if you had 8 more hours of it every day. Yes, you’ll have less spending money than normal, but you could always do that thing you’ve always wanted to do without worrying about a fixed schedule.

  1. What are your current hobbies?
  2. How much do these hobbies cost to maintain?
  3. What hobbies have you always wanted to do, but put off because you didn’t have time?
  4. What skills have you always wanted to learn?
  5. What fields/subjects interest you?
  6. What do you want to be an expert in?
  7. What communities would you want to be a part of?

If you don’t have anything you want to do on the side, why would you want to retire? Well, unless you’re just completely burnt out from working for 40 years and you want to enjoy life more… then that’s a good enough excuse.

The alternative (that I think most people take) would be to transition to a less stressful working environment with a part-time role doing something cool and fun where you can meet new people or work on a hobby that you’ve always wanted to learn more about. For example, if you love cars, why not work with a mechanic and learn more about the engine or driving.  If you like robotics, why not volunteer at FIRST to mentor high school kids with their projects?  If you like photography, buy a camera and go on walks to take pictures of new things.  These can all be done with 20 free hours – do you really need 40+?

It’s understandable that retirement is a scary next step, but so has every next step we’ve ever taken.  From high school to college to your first internship to your first job to getting married to having kids to getting your first promotion to getting more responsibility to seeing your kids become independent and make their own decisions… to… just living again. I think retirement is similar to changing careers, but with less pressure on how much you’ll be making and who you’ll be reporting to in the new position. Just do it for the experience and live life selfishly to make up for any lost time.

How do you know when you’ll retire? When living life and tackling new problems is more important than the well-being of a company or the paycheck itself.  Retire because you’ll be comfortable financially and you can finally take on those new skills and live a second life.  Bask in your success story and reinvent yourself with curiosity.  It’s the undying spark for knowledge that will make your retirement a step towards happiness and productivity.

~See Lemons Ready to Retire