Try It Out
Throughout this book you have read about everything from starting a retirement savings plan from your earliest working age to how to eat well and stay fit in your third-age years, but there is nothing like the actual experience of something to make it real. All of your hard work getting ready mentally, financially, and emotionally to retire remains theoretical until you make the crossover in real life. If the timing of this transition remains in your control, you might consider one last step before making the big leap — try it. Talk to your employer — and if that means talking to the person in the mirror, so much the better — and see if you could take a mini leave of absence for a month or more.
If you will be retiring at the same time as a partner, try to structure a retirement tryout together. Your goal is to experience what it will be like being together 24/7. Use the time to discover how you envision your true retirement years together. Being able to do this without the distractions of work responsibilities is a gift. Use it well.
You will want to take enough time so it doesn't just feel like an extended vacation. To make the most of this period, try to form your days as you expect they might go. If going to the gym is to be part of your routine, commit to the number of hours you think you plan on committing, and actually do it. Is volunteering in your game plan? Use the time to investigate where you want to give your time. Find out what each institution or nonprofit you are considering expects from its volunteers. Will spending more time with family and friends be a priority? Make dates to see them. Maybe you'll discover that their busy schedules prevent them from seeing you as much as you would like when you have no work distractions yourself. The overall goal of this trial period is to answer two questions.
Are you ready — perhaps more than ready — to make the leap?
Do you need more time before cutting the cord?
By giving yourself a window of time to try on the experience of stepping out of the full-time workplace, you can get a sense of what it would be like. Making this a defined “leave of absence” or just using up weeks and weeks of accrued vacation time, you will be reassured knowing you can return to the office and your steady paycheck.