Friday, August 23, 2013

Wondering if you are ready to retire? Eight questions to ask yourself...

The way we imagine and go through retirement will be different for each one of us, depending on our experiences, our interests, and our lifestyle. This period could be an opportunity to reflect upon and to make a new start in our lives. Dr. Yaniv Benzimra outlines eight questions we should ask ourselves to know if we are ready — psychologically — to undertake this important transition.

  1. Am I considering full or partial retirement?

    We are not required to go from an active professional life to full retirement; we can also choose to retire in stages. For example, over a period of five years we could go from five to three days, then to one day of work per week. This would allow us to spend some time away from work, to discover other activities, and to have some time to adapt to this new situation. We could also take time off from work for six months or a year to see how we would feel when we are not working. In certain cases, after retirement, we could work part time, for example as a consultant.

  2. How do I feel about my work?

    We should ask certain questions based on our past work year, for example: Do I like my work? Am I looking forward to not working? To what extent am I defined by my profession? Do I still have things to achieve professionally or have I already been around the block? We can also think about the social aspects of work and the structure that work gives us. We can ask: Am I ready to live without my social network and outside of a structured work environment?

  3. How do I feel about retirement?

    What are the advantages and disadvantages of a life without work? At the beginning of any new situation, there is a honeymoon period. But then routine sets in. After spending three to six months playing golf and travelling, think about what you are going to do during the next 15 or 20 years? In addition, am I feeling anxious about retiring or am I looking forward to it? If we have several projects lined up, it is obvious that this period will be more attractive. However, we should avoid feeling pressured by others.

  4. Have I looked at the state of my health and my energy level?

    Does my work create too much stress and health problems? Am I able to produce at the required level? Am I always tired, burned out by the time I arrive home? Do I have health problems? Can I pursue my career given my current state of health and energy level? We shouldn't wait until we are sick to stop working. We should do it as a preventative measure, so we can enjoy our retirement. We can also ask ourselves how we feel on weekends and when we are on vacation. If we are anxious to return to work, it's because our interest in it is still strong.

  5. Are my finances in order?

    In order to take a clear decision, we should analyze our assets, debts, income and expenses. Do I have a budget for my retirement that will allow me to live in the style that I want? If we want to play golf and travel, we have to have the means. Our lifestyle must also match the money we have at our disposal. Do we have insurance? This is important, even more so if we already have health problems. Do we have a dental plan? These are often the benefits we lose when we retire.

  6. Have I done some in-depth analysis, including establishing objects, projects and activities?

    At least a year before our retirement we can determine the objectives for the period after our retirement. We can also initiate projects that will allow for a transition between an active professional life and retirement, and that allow for continuity between the two stages. In this regard, we should think of activities that make sense to us: spend time with our partner, set aside time for our grandchildren, etc. And we should allocate these projects in the three spheres of life: social, physical and psychological.

  7. Have I discussed this with my partner and my immediate family?

    If we are a couple, we should discuss all this with our partner. Is he/she looking into retirement too? In addition, once we retire, we must take care to maintain our individuality even when we spend time with our partner.

  8. Do I have a plan B?

    If I don't have enough money or am bored once I retire, do I have a plan B? To establish this we must take stock of our skills, knowledge and abilities, to see if we could find some paid work. Work keeps us physically and mentally active while generating a bit of money and some social contacts.

Dr. Yaniv M. Benzimra is a clinical and organizational psychologist and managing partner of Y2 Consulting Psychologists. For more information: www.y2cp.com

Dr Yaniv M Benzimra, Ph.D.
Psychologist
Y2 Consulting Psychologists

If you have any questions and/or comments, don't hesitate. Thank you!

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