Some of us start dreaming of retirement in our 40s, while others want to keep on working until the end. There are pros and cons to either approach, of course. We all know the stories about people who died shortly after retiring, never having the chance to enjoy their retirement. And we’ve heard the stories about people who retired, and then just about died of boredom, not knowing what to do with all of their free time. Then there are those who retire early and live life to the fullest, energized by travel, new projects, and new experiences.
So when should you plan to retire? Well, your financial situation is of course the main driver in your decision. But once you’ve figured that part out, should you aim to retire early – or late?
Unfortunately, the science won’t help you decide. There are studies that support both options. A US study determined that an extra seven years of retirement could be just as good for you as actively taking steps to reduce your risk of heart disease or diabetes. (And it’s a lot easier than diet and exercise!) But an article on the Harvard Health Blog, “Is retirement good for health or bad for it?” cites a study that showed recent retirees were 40% more likely to have a stroke or heart attack, compared to their counterparts who were still working.
Maybe it all comes down to your personality type. Are you happy puttering about on weekends? Do you enjoy hobbies, and activities like golf or curling? Or do you find yourself checking your work email often, even during your leisure time? That can give you a clue as to how easy it will be for you to fill your time, once work is not taking up most of it.
And if you’re tired of work, ask yourself if you’re tired of your job, or work entirely. It may be that it’s time for a new job. A lot of people switch from a “big” job to a less demanding type of job at mid-life, i.e. trade a high-level corporate role for a job at a non-profit. This can be a perfect way to switch gears.