Suppose you are eligible to retire from your job – you are eligible for Social Security payments and have worked enough years to qualify for a good pension (if there is one with your employment). Financially, you could do it. And yet you don’t. Can you identify what is holding you back?
I recently had a conversation with someone in that precise situation. As we talked, she was able to identify several things that were keeping her from doing what she was in some ways quite ready to do – retire.
Blocks to Making the Move to Retirement
One factor was concern that she wouldn’t be contributing to the betterment of society anymore. Her career had focused on things that made a difference and she wanted to continue to do that in the coming years. Would she settle into a lifestyle that was narrower and not connected to the needs and issues?
A somewhat connected thought was that despite all she has done in a 40-year career, she hadn’t done enough in that area of interest. Should she stay and do more?
Then there was a practical thing: with workdays of 8 or more hours and a commute of an hour each way, all her focus had been on that job. She didn’t quite know how to shift focus and find new outlets for her commitment and energy.
The prospect of losing the relationships related to the job was another pull to continue working. Retirement inevitably changes or severs relationships with people with whom we have worked. In this case, they have been significant and in fact the majority of her personal relationships.
A final item was facing the overwhelming job of leaving records and the office in condition for someone to easily step in and do the work. There seems to be no time in the current pace of the job to get this done. Ultimately it became another reason to postpone retirement.
Can you relate to any of these as reasons you are putting off retirement, what is holding you back? Can you identify others?
As we talked, we identified some steps to take. Perhaps these could help you take some steps toward the goal of retirement on terms that are satisfying to you.
Steps to Removing Blocks
First, take inventory of the things you have accomplished and been involved in during your years of active employment. Write them down, think about the impacts and celebrate them. It is easy to lose track of all we have done after a long career and valuable to look back at them.
Second, look again at this list and consider what possibilities for post-retirement activity come to mind. How could your career be a launching pad for the next phase of your contribution? Perhaps there is something that you enjoyed and excelled at 20 years ago. What related things could you do? Could you take something to another level through volunteer work or even part time work in some organization? Do some creative brainstorming of ideas.
Third, take concrete steps to explore new opportunities. If it is difficult to fit into your current schedule, explore ways to carve out time to totally focus on the things you want to check out. It could mean using a day a week of your vacation time for a few weeks, or a day every other week, or even one full day to get started. Decide ahead of time what you will do with this time that will provide information you need about future possibilities.
Fourth, as you are looking at these options, look for people to build relationships with in these new organizations or groups. Even if you don’t ultimately go in some of the directions you are checking out, you may find people to connect with in various ways.
Fifth, create a plan for leaving your files, records and workplace in a condition that you will be proud of. This can apply to anything you consider unfinished in your current position. List the major components and then make a general timeline. Start chipping away by making a list of tasks divided by an estimated time each will take: 10 minutes, 15 minutes, an hour, etc. Start doing them as you have snippets and blocks of time on a weekly basis. Post that list where you see it continually and will be reminded that you can indeed achieve your overall goal a bit at a time.
Here’s a free worksheet based on the steps above. You will be able to download and print it directly from this link. WORKSHEET for Clearing Out Blocks