Should You Retire? 10 Questions to Help You Decide

Marty Nemko

Should you retire? These questions may help you decide:

1. Counting any income from investments, pensions, spouse, etc., and given your life expectancy, can you financially afford to retire? Not sure? See an accountant.

2. Do you have a health problem(s) that makes retirement wise?

3. If you're currently working, would your next decade feel more rewarding on the job or away from it?

4. If you're unemployed, are your prospects of landing a decent job so poor that it would be wiser to spend the job-search time in retirement?

5. If you were to land a job, do you believe you'd do a good-enough job at it or would it be cosmically wiser to let someone else take the position?

6. Do you have or will you likely find activities to keep you sufficiently busy for the rest of your life: for example, volunteering, hobbies, classes, friends, family activities and responsibilities, including helping them with their health problems?

7. Whether or not you have sufficient activities to fill your time, are you likely to feel fine about ending your paid employment?

8. If you live with someone, you'll be spending much more time with them if you retire. Would both of you welcome or resent that?

9. Would retiring give you the freedom to move to a geographic location that you and your partner (if any) would prefer?

10. Would your wiser twin tell you to retire?

The previously posted self-assessments had a scoring key. But here, that is ill-advised. Why? Because for a given person, a single answer could make clear whether he or she should retire. Yet for another person, even all 10 answers mightn't make the decision clear.

Obviously, deciding whether to retire is a huge decision. Take your time.

Discuss your answers to these questions with people you trust. And then let all their input float around in your head until you become clear on what's right for you. Remember that although there are exceptions, retirement, alas, tends to be like the roach motel: you can check in but you can't check out.

The San Francisco Bay Guardian called Dr. Nemko "The Bay Area's Best Career Coach." His latest books are How to Do Life: What They Didn't Teach You in School and What's the Big Idea? 39 Disruptive Proposals for a Better America. He writes weekly for as well as for More than 1,000 of his published writings are free on