When you talk about retiring, do you say you plan to retire in five years? Have you been saying you plan to retire in five years for five (or more) years? You’re not alone. Many of my friends and the people I meet as I travel around the country are all “retiring in five years” — and they have been for years. I’m not sure why five years seems to be the magic years-from-retirement number, but I’m certain that one of the primary reasons for keeping retirement a moving target is the not knowing when it’s the right time to say goodbye to your career.
Retirement is not about retiring from life. It’s about retiring the part or parts of your life that no longer fit. It’s time to retire your current work life when:
1. You’ve outgrown it. When you began your career, I’ll bet you couldn’t wait to get out of bed in the morning and get to work. Your job stretched you and helped you grow. You learned new skills, overcame challenges, and gained confidence. But, when was the last time you were truly excited about your work? I have a theory that the first 10 years of a career are about being challenged and gaining mastery, and the second 10 years are a slow slide into boredom. Not to say that there isn’t always more you can learn or more you can master, but tell the truth. If the challenge is gone, and you’ve grown far beyond the confines of the job, it’s time to find a better fit.
2. You’re too comfortable. Okay, you’ve got a nice job, the money and benefits are good, and you move through each day with no heavy lifting. It’s been so long since you’ve experienced the outer limits of your comfort zone that you’re basically phoning it in each day. Just how comfortable is that comfort zone you’re zoning out in? If it feels like you’re flat lining, it’s not comfort you’re experiencing, but a slow death every day, and it’s definitely time to head for the door.
3. You’re burnt out. Have you been a high-powered professional or in one of the care-giving professions for two or more decades? There’s a good chance you’re just plain running on empty. especially if you love your job. When was the last time you felt filled to overflowing refreshed, recharged and ready for a new adventure? If you’re too fried to care, it’s time to fill up your tank and drive out of town.
4. You’re downsized. Congratulations! The Universe has given you a great big push out the door into the wonderful world of possibility. Instead of heading for the nearest Sun City, or worse yet, diving right back into the same job in a different place, take a deep breath and be honest with yourself. Haven’t you been ready for a big change for a long time, but were afraid to take the leap? Sure it’s scary, but did you know that physiologically you experience fear and excitement exactly the same way in your body? So, choose to be excited about this opportunity, and decide that it’s time to breathe life into that long dormant dream of yours. Go for it!
5. Your IGS is telling you it’s time. Your IGS is your Internal Guidance System. It’s like the GPS in your car, only better. It’s solid gold and it will never, ever steer you in the wrong direction. It’s that hunch, small voice, intuition, gut feel, or deep inner knowing you’ve been ignoring. You know — the one you’ve been ignoring that’s letting you know you just can’t keep doing what you’re doing. It doesn’t matter what you call it. What matters is that you begin to listen to it, and learn to trust it. So often I meet women who can’t define why it’s time to move on, they just know it is. And, you wouldn’t believe how many clients have come to me over the years to create a 12-18 month exit strategy from their current work, only to be downsized within two to six months. That’s the IGS working!
Remember that retiring from you current work life is not a death sentence, but at last, the freedom to live. So trust your IGS, and take Agnes Gooch’s advice from Auntie Mame, and “live, live, live!”
Copyright (c) 2008 Lin Schreiber