4 Signs You're Ready to Retire

You've been daydreaming about retirement forever and are eagerly counting down the years until you can say goodbye to your workaday ways. But do you have a clear vision of what retired life will look like and how you'll know it's time to move on to this next phase of life?

"Retirement today is very different than it was in our grandparents' time," says Christine Bartel, host of CBS4's news show, Aging Independently, and CEO of Infinite Health & Wellness Inc., a health care consulting company that helps seniors age in place.

While in the past people used to work until age 65 and then give up their jobs for a more relaxed lifestyle, the current economic climate makes it necessary for many older folks to continue working indefinitely to help cover their living and health care expenses. Bartel says that this isn't necessarily a bad thing, since working can enable people to stay connected to others and give them a purpose—a key to staying young in both body and mind.

If don't like your current work situation, though, Bartel says that regardless of age, you can consider retiring and finding something else to do with the rest of your life.

Signs You're Ready to Retire

Looking for a sign? Here are four that Bartel says could mean you're ready to retire:

1. You dread going to work. While no workplace is ideal all of the time, if you find yourself waking up feeling very unhappy, unsatisfied, and dreading what's to come on a regular basis, this be a big clue that it's time for you to re-evaluate your career and possibly consider downsizing your job.

2. You feel exhausted all of the time but can't sleep. When your job is draining you too much, it takes a toll on your energy level, yet you still may not be able to unwind and fall asleep at night. This can cause you to withdraw from other activities you enjoy and could lead to isolation. You may also find that when you do finally sleep, you wake up feeling numb and without any real purpose in life.

3. You're experiencing changes in your health. "Women need to be aware of their own bodies and what's happening with them," Bartel says. Over time, experiencing extreme stress on the job, or being overwhelmed from trying to juggle your work and family responsibilities, can cause an array of stress-related ailments, including swelling, itching, hair loss, weight gain or loss, and depression. If left untreated, stress on the body can lead to a number of serious health conditions. This makes it important to get to the root of the problem as soon as you can.

4. Your family or friends notice that you seem especially moody or unhappy. When you aren't feeling recognized or fulfilled at work, this can come through in your attitude and mood. Pay attention to comments from those who are closest to you. If they routinely comment that they feel like something is wrong or affecting you negatively, it can be a clue that you're ready to retire.

Planning for Retirement

If you think that you'd like to retire in the not-too-distant future, Bartel suggests coming up with a multi-year plan to prepare for this change of life. She says that everyone can retire, regardless of their financial situation, as long as they are willing to make necessary sacrifices in lifestyle.

The first step in retirement planning is to envision your goal or end product, and keep this firmly in mind. Then you'll need to create a roadmap of steps that you can take over the next three to five years to get you from where you are now to a place where you can achieve your desires. If you'll need to live on a lower income, which is often the case in retirement, she says that now is a good time to start downsizing. Figure out what expenses you can get rid of, and start paying off all of your debt.

While getting yourself financially secure can take several years of time, Bartel says that the satisfaction and improved health and wellbeing you get in return when you take the risk to try something new can be well worth the sacrifice.

Christine Bartel reviewed this article.