Am I Ready to Retire?

By:  Saxon Birdsong | Founder

I retired 25 months ago. Every day since then has been wonderful, and it just keeps getting better. I haven’t missed working for even a minute. I find this puzzling, because my friends and family—and I myself—had guessed that the transition to retirement would be difficult. I have always enjoyed challenges, and I assumed quite naturally that I would miss the challenges and excitement of running a fairly complicated small business like BWFA. So why wasn’t the transition more difficult?

For 25 years, I loved my job—the employees, the clients, our young interns, the vendors…everything about the work that I did.  I was proud of the company we had built and felt privileged to play a significant role in making it better from one day to the next. How could it possibly be that I didn’t miss any of this? Curious, indeed.

I think the answer lies in the fact that I was ready to retire, for a few reasons:

  • Early in my life, while living and studying in Europe in the late 1960s, I developed a deep interest in history and Although I have since spent the majority of my life in finance, accounting, and investments, that interest has never left me, and I welcomed the time and mental freedom that retirement would give me to reconnect with such pursuits. The prospect was exciting.
  • I was confident that my partners, employees, and I had accomplished our objectives and created a company that would continue to deliver on its commitments to our clients. The people and all the other components necessary for a business to run well were in place. I wasn’t leaving a sinking ship.
  • Because of a serious health event, I became acutely aware that we all have a finite amount of time on earth, and I wanted the freedom to see and pursue more than my work schedule had permitted me to do. I have always had an avid interest in anything with a motor—cars, auto racing, and boats—and I could pursue these interests in retirement as well.
  • I was finally financially prepared.

Interestingly, if any one of these items had been missing from the list, I don’t think I would have retired when I did. I have since labeled the above items my  “confirming  facts.”

What’s your set of confirming facts?  While each person’s list would be a little different, it seems to me that most people eventually get to the stage where they know it’s time—they have developed their list of confirming facts, and they are pretty clear as to why it’s time to retire.

My own experience has led me to think about what those who are still working might do to help ensure that they are better prepared for this next chapter in their lives.

Specifically, I think you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I/Are we financially prepared for retirement? (Taxes and healthcare deserve special attention, and preparing a financial plan with a competent professional can be helpful.) If the answer to this one isn’t “yes,” then the rest of these are moot.
  • What do I want to accomplish in my work before I retire?
  • Could I phase out of my job (e.g., work part time) and into retirement? Is this what I want?
  • Is my partner/spouse ready? Do we agree on what we will do in retirement? What adjustments should we make to our daily routine to accommodate our new schedule?
  • Will retirement give me/us the opportunity ..?
  • Do I/we want to relocate?
  • Do I/we want to consider downsizing (e.g., condo-style housing) if travel is a big part of our plans? (Of course, unconventional plans like living on a boat or traveling the world in an RV would have all sorts of special challenges and opportunities for you!)

And finally, here are a few of the more important things that I have discovered in retirement:

  • You will never run out of things to do. (Other retirees always told me this, and it’s true!)
  • Exercise is essential to a good retirement. Now that you are not rushed to fit exercise into your schedule, it’s quite tolerable.
  • It’s easier to meet people and make friends in retirement.
  • Why doesn’t everyone retire to South Florida?

As you can see, I am staying connected to BWFA and all of my friends there.

Call me at 443-386-4323 if there is something I can help with—I have plenty of time now.SaxonBirdson