How Do You Know When It’s Time to Retire?
If you don’t know what you will do in your retirement, you’re probably not ready
By Caroline Chuba, Regional Director, Langley Member Centre
I “retired” from CLAC in 2017. My intention at the time was to stop working full-time and perhaps do some kind of fun part-time job or volunteer with a nonprofit organization. Within six months, I was bored and found another full-time job, quit that after four months, and came back to CLAC a few months later.
My learning from that experience is that you must be prepared with a plan to fill the time formerly taken up by the career or job you were doing prior to retirement. We don’t always think about how much time, energy, and brain space is consumed by our day-to-day work tasks until we suddenly don’t need to do them anymore.
Some people think that retirement will be like being on a permanent vacation, which certainly has its appeal, especially in the midst of a stressful workday (or year). However, unlike vacation time where we look forward to unplugging from work, enjoying recreational activities and/or travel and then returning to the office, the reality of retirement is endless days that must be occupied with, well, something new. For me personally, how I choose to fill that time is important, because I view it as a privilege that is not available to everyone.
A quick Google search will lead you to all kinds of articles on retirement, including financial calculators and other tools meant to ensure you are prepared. There is also a plethora of articles on numerous websites about the impact of retirement on a person’s mental health.
Clearly, retirement is a major life change that should be considered carefully if you are in the position where it is a choice and not a necessity due to health concerns or other factors outside of your control.
Many of us still feel the need to be productive and contribute to society or our community in a meaningful way. My dad has been retired now for 20 years and often tells me he feels like he’s wasting time if he spends a day reading a book or watching football. Undoubtedly, he has passed on the need to be doing something useful to his daughter.
As I get older, the thought of not having a daily commitment to go to work is something I reflect on with mixed emotions. My work at CLAC representing and advocating for members can certainly be stressful, but it is also highly rewarding. It fulfills my need to have a purpose and a reason to get out of bed every morning, so I would most definitely need something interesting to replace that.
One of my work colleagues recently asked me what I plan to do when I retire. As I pondered the question, I couldn’t come up with a ready answer. I took this to mean that I’m probably just not ready yet to enter that next season of my life.
I do believe though, that when the (next) time comes to take that big step, I will be sure. And I will have a plan!