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Thinking about retiring? Will retirement be good for you?

separator Day in and day out for years and years, you’ve been going to work, and to be honest, you’re pretty sick of it. You can’t wait until you retire. You’ve figured out your finances, and you know that you’ll have enough money to live on. But have you figured out what your life will be like when you don’t have to go to work anymore?

Ask yourself some questions, and answer them honestly. You’ll get a clear picture of whether now is a good time to make this important life decision.

Do you identify yourself with your job? Some people do, some don’t. Even if you don’t always love your job, you may be more emotionally tied to it than you realize. Do you think of yourself as the person your job title describes? Linda the accountant, Bob the teacher? How will it feel not to be that person anymore? You may love it, but then again you may not. Are you ready to think of yourself as “retired?”

Check your thoughts throughout the work day. While you’re at work, ask yourself at different times during the day, “Am I enjoying this? What would I rather be doing instead? Can I picture myself doing something completely different than being at work?”

If you have a spouse, what does he or she think? Retirement can change the dynamics of a marriage. People become fondly attached to their routines. Retirement will change those routines, so the two of you need to talk about that in advance. How will your having a lot more free time affect your spouse?

How realistic are your plans? Retirement is thought of as a golden, rosy time. You’ll be with your grandchildren, you’ll have lunch with friends, you’ll have time to relax and do nothing. Maybe. But are your grandchildren really available to you, or are they in school? Are your friends retired too, or do they still work? Do you really like to relax and do nothing?

Do you have hobbies? You’ll definitely need to have some activities that will help you fill your days. Do you remember Ruth, the “retired” grandmother who quit her job to take care of her grandchildren?  Ruth may not go to her old job, but she takes care of her grandchildren during the school year and volunteers for two different organizations. Her day isn’t quite as full as it was when she was an employee, but it’s pretty darn full. And she’s pretty darn happy with that. You don’t have to be quite as busy as Ruth, but make sure you line up activities you enjoy before you start wondering what you’re doing to do with all that empty time.

Make a retirement plan
Make a list of the reasons you want to retire. Then take an honest look at each item, and decide whether it’s realistic. The last thing you want to do is give up your job only to find yourself with a lot of time on your hands—time that you don’t enjoy. Staring at the television shouldn’t be what retirement is all about. You’ll need to stay active and engaged in your life. You’ll need to feel useful. Your mental and physical health are more important now than ever, so make sure your retirement plans take that into account.

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