Covid Offered Time to Reflect Which Led to Early Retirement.

May 27, 2021

Covid Offered Time to Reflect Which Led to Early Retirement.

May 29, 2023

Today’s topic may seem like a strange segue after yesterday’s post expressing concern about a potentially declining population. But, while the juxtaposition of these two trends may cause some demographic agita, these are the kinds of questions we like to ask at MEA when we’re donning our sociologist hats.

Bloomberg reports that 2.7 million Americans aged 55+ are contemplating retirement years earlier than they’d imagined because of the pandemic. Blame it on endless Zooms, the soaring stock and real estate markets, the opportunity to say to heck with my corporate job, or the desire to become a free-floating digital nomad in Mexico. These generally affluent (let’s be honest, not everyone can afford this) folks have adopted a new “life is short” mindset. I may be talking about you.

In many ways, the fact that we’re unleashing ourselves from the “default world” of mindlessly working at jobs we don’t love might be a good thing. Taking a gap year or choosing to devote yourself to an “encore career” focused on service may offer you more joy than you could ever have imagined.

But let’s also remember that many studies have shown that retirement accelerates our mortality rate by approximately two years. Many of us are not emotionally prepared to retire or, in many cases, experience the loss of purpose and community. Psychologist Maryanne Vandervelde recently wrote a Wall Street Journal article focusing on the eight questions we might want to ask ourselves before determining our retirement date. How do these resonate with you?

1. Every Sunday night, as I anticipate returning to work, do I look forward to finishing tasks, seeing friends and colleagues, and perhaps learning something new? Or do I dread another week of tedious tasks and difficult people?

2. Have I thought carefully about my financial picture? What expenses am I prepared to cut if money becomes tight?

3. What do my already-retired friends, relatives, and colleagues think?

4. Would I like part-time work for a more gradual retirement, or is “cold turkey” better for me? Is part-time work even realistic in my field?

5. Do I have hobbies or interests that could fill my time? Is there volunteer work that I’d like to do?

6. What friends do I have now that involve neither my career nor my partner?

7. What role is my partner (if I have one) playing in my decision about retirement?

8. Do my partner and I have similar ideas about travel or where we want to live in retirement?

And, here’s two more questions I would add:

9. What am I retiring “to” as opposed to retiring “from” (as I may get bored of golf, CNN, and walking the dog)?

10. How much of my identity is wrapped up in my work, and how might I feel being a PIP (Previously Important Person)?

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