When is the Right Time to Retire? Uncover the Top 8 Signs

older man stressed

It’s not always easy to know when it’s time to retire. 


For some people, the decision comes easily. They know they’re ready to take a step back from their career and enjoy their golden years. 


But for others, it can be more complicated. 


  • Are you feeling restless and itching to do something new? 
  • Do you dread going to work every day yet you’re afraid to leave an accomplished position that you’ve worked hard to achieve? 
  • Or are you just not feeling as happy or fulfilled as you once did? 


If any of these sounds like you, it might be time to retire. 


And studies show that if you’re lucky enough to choose when you’ll leave the workforce, it can positively impact your well-being.


To help you make that decision, we’ll cover the ideal retirement age from three significant perspectives. And then we’ll list eight signs that indicate you need to retire (including a few extra emotional ones).

But do keep in mind that these are just guidelines — of course, only you can decide when it’s the right time to retire.


When to Retire?

Some may decide to hang up their work boots in their mid-50s, while others might wait until they’re closer to 70. And some won’t ever retire fully at all.


Retirement is both an exciting and daunting milestone


And with so many factors to consider — like financial stability, health and well-being, and quality of life — it can be difficult to decide when the right time for you to retire is.


If you’re like most people, retirement will take up a large portion of your life (at least 18 years on average).


Of course, there’s no right or wrong answer. Ultimately, the decision of when to retire comes down to what makes the most sense for your unique situation, sense of purpose, and financial goals. 


There’s a way to streamline your decision, though. Here are three major factors to consider when deciding when to retire:


  • Official retirement age
  • Best age to retire for health
  • Best age to retire for happiness


Factor #1 Official Retirement Age

Let’s start with the official retirement age. This is the earliest age you can get retirement benefits from certain government programs, such as Social Security in the US.


Most countries have a number set in stone, though, in reality, the average retirement age is typically a bit lower or higher.


In the US, it gets a bit more complicated. Depending on your birth year, the retirement age for Social Security benefits ranges from 66 to 67 years old.


Here’s a detailed chart outlining the exact ages people can collect full Social Security benefits:

age to receive social security benefits in the us and the official retirement age

Of course, Social Security and other government benefits aren’t the only deciding factors for an official retirement age. Health is also a driving factor, our next topic.


Factor #2 Best Age to Retire for Health

The eternal question — when is the best age to retire for health? Because deciding when to retire and enjoying years of good health go hand in hand.


The answer, it turns out, depends on a myriad of factors.


And if you’ve Googled it (which is likely how you wound up here), you’ll find different answers.


Some may argue that a retirement too early or too late can adversely affect your well-being. But age isn’t necessarily the most important factor in this equation.


Instead, it’s also critical to consider the following:


  • Genetic predisposition — the likelihood of developing certain conditions increases over time
  • Job characteristics — the more physically or mentally demanding the job, the greater retirement-related health benefits
  • Physical activity —  retirement may provide more (or fewer) opportunities to engage in physical activities
  • Social connections — the types of relationships you foster impact when you retire

factors that influence the best age to retire for health: genetic predispostion, job characteristics, physical activity and social connections


Dive a bit deeper into each of these areas, and you’ll find nuances that impact the ideal retirement age for health. 


Take social connections, for instance. Suppose you primarily draw from informal connections like family, friends, and neighbors. In that case, it’s easier to retire early than if you rely solely on formal relationships, such as work relationships and civic associations.


While genetic predisposition certainly plays a role in determining your health, it’s not quite as impactful as your lifestyle choices. 


In fact, according to the World Health Organization, a whopping 75% of the way you age is dependent on environmental, behavioral, and lifestyle choices — which leaves only 25% up to genetics. 


aging factors you can and cannot control. You can control your environment lifestyle and behavior, and you cannot control your age genetics and existing medical conditions
Focus on the aging factors you can control.


The key is to focus on the factors that you CAN control.  


There’s also longevity to consider — and deciding how many of those years you actually want to spend in retirement. 


For instance, a 62-year-old male has a 40% chance of living to age 85, whereas a 62-year-old female has a 52% chance. 


chances for men and women to live up to a certain age


The numbers drop down to 19% and 31%, respectively, in terms of the chance of living to age 90. That’s the story in the US, anyway. 


So, if you have big plans for retirement, it’s worth considering from a bird’s eye view how that fits into the big picture.


Longevity aside, if you’re looking for a magic number, unfortunately, it doesn’t exist. But we do hope you now have a little insight into retirement and health.


Now, let’s move on to the next retirement perspective: retirement for happiness.


Factor #3 Best Age to Retire for Happiness

Whether you’re looking at it from a scientific or personal point of view, the debate around the best age to retire for happiness is ongoing.


Most experts agree that waiting until later in life to retire can have significant advantages.


But (and that’s a big but) the best age to retire for happiness varies on individual needs and goals.


From millennials dreaming about early retirement to baby boomers who think they should stay on until 70, each person will have unique personal factors influencing their decision.


The big piece that most people miss when planning for retirement is they only plan for their finances. If you’re familiar with our content, you know about our obsession with planning out the non-financial stuff, like pursuing your passions and your sense of purpose. 


(By the way, if this resonates, you’re not alone. Take our fun 10-question quiz to discover more about your retirement purpose.)


So what’s the best age to retire for happiness? 


Any age – as long as you find joy without constraints and restrictions, it’ll be the best retirement ever.

But here are key signs that it’s likely time to retire…


4 Big Signs It’s Time to Retire

#1 You Are Emotionally Burnt Out

The first sign that it’s time to retire is when your work starts to drain energy and vitality.


Are you feeling exhausted and run down, like you can’t keep going, like you’re under constant, unrelenting stress? Are you not enjoying your work anymore and find yourself dreading going to the office each day?


It may be time to call it quits because you’re likely suffering from emotional burnout. And you’re not the only one. In fact, a significant 52% of the respondents in Indeed’s survey are feeling burned out:

52% of workers feel emotionally burned out from work


Emotional burnout is one of the biggest signs that it’s time for you to pack up your desk, say goodbye to your coworkers, and retire. 


Retirement is a wonderful time for some R&R and adventures, so even if you’re not completely burned out emotionally, don’t wait until rock bottom happens to make the decision to retire.


#2 Your Health is Declining 

No one wants to think about their health declining as they get older, but the normal aging process is a reality that we all have to face. And if you’re starting to see that your physical or emotional health is on the decline, that is a definite sign that it’s time for you to retire. 


Research indicates that if you retire due to poor health, you’ll feel substantially better. So if you’re starting to feel like retiring is the best decision your health, take the opportunity.


What’s key here is that, in addition to taking care of your physical health, you’re still engaging in activities that mentally and socially stimulate you — they are vital for a happy and healthy retirement.


#3 You Are Financially Prepared 

Retirement comes with a lot of financial unknowns. One question that often comes up is whether or not you’re actually ready for retirement financially. 


Here are a few signs that you’re financially not ready for retirement. You: 


  • Have a lot of debt
  • Don’t have enough saved up for retirement
  • Are not sure what your monthly expenses will be in retirement 
  • Struggle to stay financially afloat each month 


If any of these sound like you, it’s time to start thinking about improving your finances before you ditch your job for good. Consider consulting a fiduciary financial advisor from the national association of personal financial advisors and ask them to run a range of scenarios for you to avoid making one of the biggest (pre)retiree planning mistakes.


And if you think you’re financially stable to consider retirement, establish your budget and try following it for six months before you retire. Your spending might decrease in retirement, but maybe not as much as you’d think:


how spending changes before and after retirement


Which is why we suggest doing a trial run. If you can live for three months within your estimated retirement budget and not dip into your savings (or amass more credit card debt), you’re financially set.


Treating this trial run seriously and crafting a realistic budget before you retire will help ensure that your final decision about quitting work is based on financial reality, not assumptions or hope.


#4 You Don’t Identify With Your Job Anymore

While your identity is multifaceted and dynamic, your work tends to become an integral part of it. 


As you progress in your career, it’s natural to create a work identity that extends far beyond work. For example, if someone asked you who you are, you’d probably respond with your job title. 


No longer identifying with your job is one of the crucial signs that you need to retire. Although, admitting this can be a big challenge for some people, especially if you’ve climbed the ranks over the years and still enjoy receiving accolades at work. 


The true tell-tale sign is that you start to crave growth. Even if you’re not sure about what your new identity in retirement looks like, there’s something deep inside you that no longer resonates with your job role.


If that’s the case, then it’s time to rebuild your identity through a new purpose and new passions. And don’t worry if you’re not sure what they are, read this article on finding your passions.


4 More Emotional Signs You’re Ready to Retire

If you’re still on the fence about retiring, here are more emotional signs you’re ready to retire:


  • Work isn’t fulfilling anymore — remember when you used to get a kick out of cracking that tough project? If that joy has turned into a “meh”, it might be time to find new challenges and passions in the golden years of retirement.
  • Retirement dreams are calling — are you spending more time dreaming about learning Italian cooking or fishing in the crack of dawn than focusing on your work tasks? That’s your heart telling you it’s ready for a new adventure.
  • You’re yearning for change — if the same old routine has you yearning for something different, it’s a sign. 
  • You’re craving more family time — if missing out on grandkids growing up or yearning for more date nights with your partner is a constant thought, retirement could offer the precious gift of time.


These feelings are perfectly normal. After all, you’ve spent decades working hard. It’s natural to yearn for change.


And, if you’re feeling nervous about this big step, just remember — every new chapter starts with a bit of uncertainty. But also with the promise of exciting plot twists and turns. So if you’re feeling ready to retire, here’s how to prepare for it emotionally.


How to Prepare for Retirement Emotionally

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, preparing for retirement should go beyond just finances. 


You need to have something to retire to, not just something to retire from.


So if you’re asking yourself, “Am I emotionally ready to retire?” — kudos to you. You’re already ahead of most pre-retirees. 


(P.S. this is just one of the seven key retirement questions you should ask yourself)


Here are a few tips that will ensure you’re emotionally prepared to retire:


  • Have a support network — emotional support is vital in your transition from work to retirement, so communicate your plans with your loved ones
  • Find clarity — without having a clear vision that excites you, retirement can cause anxiety  and even depression 
  • Set clear goals — make a plan, set goals, and break them down into micro-steps to get the most out of your retirement
  • Create a retirement routine — replace your work routines with new ones, and be sure they support your passions and post-career purpose
  • Redefine your identity — retirement isn’t just about going from one phase of life to another without a plan, it’s also an opportunity to redefine yourself, get in touch with your authentic self, and continue growing


So start your retirement planning with these tips and our Retirement Checklist.


how to emotionally prepare for retirement: have a support network, set clear goals, find clarity, create a routine, and redefine your identity


When to Retire? Consider These Factors, It’s Up to You

If you’ve recognized these eight signs in your life, it’s time to retire. Don’t let your fears of retirement hold you back.


It isn’t an end destination; it’s the beginning of a whole new adventure. But it’s crucial to do some introspection work and carefully plan your next chapters.


When deciding when to retire, consider three big factors:


  • Official retirement age
  • Best age to retire for health
  • Best age to retire for happiness


To recap the four biggest signs you’re ready to retire:

  • #1 You’re emotionally burnt out — if you’re constantly feeling overwhelmed and drained, it may be time to consider retirement
  • #2 Your health is declining — when your health starts deteriorating due to job stress, retirement could be a healthier choice
  • #3 You’re financially prepared — if your savings are enough to support your lifestyle without working, you’re ready to retire
  • #4 You don’t identify with your job anymore — when your job no longer aligns with who you are or your values, it’s a sign that retirement could be near

And here are the four emotional signs to you’re ready to retire:


  • #5 Work isn’t fulfilling — your heart’s just not in it, you’re ready for new challenges
  • #6 New dreams on the rise — your mind is spinning on ideas for new growth 
  • #7 You crave change — you know it’s time to steer clear of a retirement rut
  • #8 Wanting more family time — you realize relationships with loved ones are rising to the top of the priority list


If you’re ready to retire and would like help planning for your future with clarity, Cyn’s Rewire My Retirement program systemically walks you throught the next steps in your journey – start by watching this Free Masterclass on how to turn your successful career into a successful retirement. 


You deserve all the joy, vitality, freedom, peace and happiness as you transition into this important life phase of retirement.

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portrait of Cyn Meyer, founder of Second Wind Movement and a certified retirement life coach
Cyn Meyer 

Retirement Life Coach

As a certified retirement life coach since 2018, Cyn has helped thousands of older adults turn their retirement years into remarkable years full of growth, purpose, and passion. Through her signature program Rewire My Retirement, she helps people achieve their best life across the 5 Rings of Retirement, which covers topics Growth, Community, Health, Giving Back, and Finance.

Cyn combines specific life coaching tools, neuroscience, and her extensive background in marketing (spanning 17 years) to make a powerful impact with Second Wind Movement – an organization dedicated to providing educational resources and coaching for seniors.

With meticulous research, insight, and passion, Cyn’s mission is to usher in a new wave of positive experiences for generations of retirees.

portrait of Cyn Meyer, founder of Second Wind Movement and a certified retirement life coach

Cyn Meyer 

Retirement Life Coach

As a certified retirement life coach since 2018, Cyn has helped thousands of older adults turn their retirement years into remarkable years full of growth, purpose, and passion (beyond the stereotypical financial planning side of retirement). 

She combines specific life coaching tools, neuroscience, and her extensive background in marketing (spanning 17 years) to make a powerful impact with Second Wind Movement – an organization dedicated to providing educational resources and coaching for seniors.

With meticulous research, insight, and passion, Cyn’s mission is to usher in a new wave of positive experiences for generations of retirees.