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Retirement opens a new chapter with great opportunities and fun for us

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Dr. James Ewers

Guest Commentary

If we are fortunate, we will join the retirement ranks one day. It is then we will close one chapter of our life and open another chapter. It will be exciting and full of adventure. Some of us already know what we will do when we retire, while others of us are still exploring.

Retirement is a decision that is based upon many factors. One factor some of us have is fear. We are simply afraid to stop working. I heard a colleague say once that he was afraid to retire because he would have a more sedentary lifestyle. Now some would think that’s a strange reason to keep working but I will not be the judge or the jury.

Money is another factor in the retirement scenario. When we work, we get accustomed to a certain income level. We develop a budget based upon the income we receive from our jobs. The consistency of our income drives some of us to continue to work.

One of the biggest factors in retirement planning is what will you do next? As I contemplated my own retirement, I asked myself that same question. At the time I did retire, thankfully I had some idea of what I wanted to do. In my opinion it is extremely important to have something to do.

If you have been going at a fast pace and then stop suddenly, it could be stressful. That probably sounds like an inappropriate word to use but it isn’t. Some stress can be caused by stopping a routine, something that you do each day. Here is a bit of advice for your review and consideration.

Some people work for so long without taking any time off and as a result accumulate a lot of vacation time. Since you are thinking about retirement seriously, why not take some of that vacation time to test the waters.

You can see first-hand what it is like to tool around the house all day and watch a few horse operas (cowboy shows). Instead of going to bed at 10:30 pm, why not try 11:30 pm. In my work life, I was an early riser. I didn’t wait for the alarm to go off. I beat the alarm. During the time off, don’t be afraid to do things a little bit differently. Alter your schedule as it might ease you into retirement.

Age is another important part of retirement. I am reminded of the lyrics by old school crooner, Kenny Rogers when he sang, “you have to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run”. That is a judgement you will have to make. I will say you will know when it is time. It’s a feeling you get. Your family or friends won’t have to tell you or urge you to retire. You will know.

The 2018 Employee Benefit Research Institute survey says that 48% of workers expect to retire after age 65 but only 19% stayed on the job that long. It is critically important to check on your Social Security benefits, your health and Medicare benefits before making the retirement decision. While the age of 65 seems to be the target, you must determine if that is your target.

During my professional life, I watched enough people hang on and draw a paycheck. If you can afford to and are in good health, why not retire with dignity, grace and respect. With your finances in good shape, why not retire at the top of your game. When this happens, your colleagues will miss you and will want you to return.

Retirement opens an endless array of opportunities. Being with family, traveling and taking up a sport or a hobby will bring you immense satisfaction and fulfillment. You will muse in your quiet moments and be thankful you reached this milestone in your life.

Embrace retirement and it will embrace you.

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