Am I qualified to retire? Do I have what it takes?
I’ll reflect here as retirement being the next job I desire to obtain and give it a job description, that list of required and desired qualifications that the perfect candidate would possess to be successful, and that stack that up against an honest self-assessment.
The most obvious qualification, and maybe the hardest one to quantify, is having the financial resources, since this new job doesn’t pay anything, sort of like being a full-time volunteer. For most people, retirement will bring a reduced monthly paycheck delivered by some combination of pensions, 401(k), IRA, investments, savings and Social Security. So the real question here is not how much is available, but can you change your spending habits to match. It’s a real boost if you don’t have a house payment or other large loans, or have children “still on the payroll”, but ultimately the question, and hence the qualification, becomes can you balance your spending with your resources without draining them too quickly.
I believe I’ll be qualified financially in the very near future. Frankly, I’ve lived at times in my life, quite happily in fact, on far less than I’ll have in retirement. I can dial it back as needed and expect to have more time to look for opportunities to save on monthly expenses. But honestly, short of working until I die, this is really a matter of timing and delaying retirement until I have no choice or having a little more to spend just isn’t worth the benefits of this new job, like sleeping in and slowing down. And naps. Really looking forward to naps.
A big qualification for this retirement job, and one that holds many people back, is filling your days. The average paying job requires a minimum of 40 hours of actual work time in a week, but adding in waking up, showering, shaving, getting dressed, commuting to and commuting from an office stretches that 8 hours per day into 11-12 hours. Add at least an hour to prepare, eat and cleanup after dinner, plus 8 hours of sleep and the average time to fill with other activities during a work day is about 2 hours. That’s not nearly enough, so lots of chores get moved to the weekend to fill that time up. Do you have, or can you expect to build, enough interesting and fulfilling things to do on a daily basis to prevent you from giving up your self-directed retirement in favor of a boss that will tell you what to do with your time?
I believe I’m qualified to fill my days. I will spend quite a bit of it outdoors, continuing my lifelong running and walking habits, playing golf, skiing and exploring. In looking back at my childhood, when I also had looks of time to fill, I was an avid reader and look forward to returning to that. I have lots of movies to watch I’ve never seen before. I have lots of blogs to write, TED videos to watch, a love of cooking that feeds my love of eating and little house improvement projects. I’m also fortunate that my paying job for the last 40+ years has been in computing, and unlike an accounting or management career, I can continue to dabble in tech. I might even build that “one remote control to rule all devices” I promised my wife ten years ago. But most of all I believe I can dial back my type A personality and just slow down my pace.
Any applicant desiring this coveted retirement position should have the qualification of being in good health. Sitting at a desk all day long gets replaced with lots of activities, and good physical fitness entering retirement will improve both the financial aspects and filling the days. Waiting for retirement to begin that process is like saying you’ll quit cigarettes next week. Can you really expect to reverse a life of coach-potatoing and bad habits when you start in your sixties?
I’m certainly qualified health-wise. I’m on pace to run over 800 miles this year and since the age of seventeen have run nearly 40,000 miles. I take no medications and my heart rate and blood pressure are stellar. I have a few pounds I’d like to lose and retirement will give me more opportunities to exercise, especially walking and golfing.
I have no doubt retirement will be a great and fulfilling job, that I’m well-qualified and that I’m up for the challenge. I’ve been preparing a long time and the closer it gets, the more excited I become. Please hire me!