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When should you leave?

“There is a trick to a graceful exit. It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, or a relationship is over – and to let go.” – Ellen Goodman

I am not exactly sure when I personally decided to retire. I think it was when I had received an award for many years of volunteer work. We were out celebrating at a restaurant in St. Louis. Family and friends were in from out of town to help me celebrate and many glasses of wine had been consumed. I was feeling grateful for the honor. Thankful for my family and friends, but also physically and emotionally tired. I was pushing that magic number: 70.

What if I just moved the time line up a bit and did not wait until 70 to retire? My husband was not going to retire. He loves what he does and interaction with his clients. My justification for this seemed so logical. With him still working, it would give me time to “settle in”, making my own personal adjustments to life after work.

I had just read an article interviewing Jane Pauley about her new book and one particular quote of hers struck me. “Unlike previous generations we can imagine retiring to something rather than just from something.” What I thought was so great about her words is that is what I wanted to do. Retiring to something sounded wonderful, it just made perfect sense.

I read somewhere that retirement is about the alignment of two things: money and values. When deciding if you should retire, determine the type of lifestyle that you want to live and most importantly, if you can afford it. Well, we had money saved. We had just signed up for Social Security. I was on Medicare, so what was I waiting for.

Many have told me that as they contemplate retirement, the time never does seem right. Often, as we age, retirement is a word you keep kicking down the road, waiting for that perfect venue to happen. But waiting for that perfection gives us the excuse for not taking any action at all.

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