Most fantasize about retirement while working. I recall telling my wife when I was in my mid 20s that I wanted to stay with federal service because I could retire at age 55, which I did by the way. However, we live in the real world and retirement is a HUGE decision that changes your routine and life forever and hopefully you will move on to bigger and better things.
There are many issues to consider when you retire and I’ve discussed how to be financially and emotionally prepared  when you leave and other key considerations in my column and throughout my web site at www.federalretirement.net . That being said, there is one fundamental question that you must contemplate first, discuss with your significant others, and come to terms with long before you make the leap.
WHAT WILL YOU DO IN RETIREMENT?
You must honestly answer this question from a practical and realistic point of view or your retirement could end up your nightmare. Yes, we all fantasize about travel , free time, and doing what you want when you want to but think about it. What will your new routine become? Right now you have a set routine with work and family that you are very accustomed to. You may think you don’t like it but it’s an established norm for you and when that’s behind you there will be a void to fill.
When I retired in 2005 I knew that I would simply continue to work in my home business that I established 20 years before. Even with my home business, retirement was still a major adjustment. Prior to retirement I was out of the home 5 days a week at work where I socialized with fellow workers and found satisfaction with my work and routine there.
When I suggest being realistic about your expectations you have to consider health issues, natural limitations that we all suffer with age, financial resources , interests, and the entire gambit of concerns from all aspects of one’s life. These issues have to be resolved with your spouse as well because their routine and expectations will also be impacted. Don’t assume anything.
One area that has caught me by surprise is the limitations that we all have as we age. We tend to think we will be physically able to do what we’ve done in the past with ease. Not so. I enjoyed tackling about any and every home improvement that you can imagine. We tend to plan our life naturally around our past experiences however the paradigm changes as we age. I can no longer do the heavy physical work due to various medical conditions that limit my ability to perform those functions.
The new Phased Retirement program  will be helpful for those you want to test the water before retiring full time. I believe honesty is the key to a true evaluation of your personal situation and determining what you will do in retirement. Address the following areas honestly and frankly with the significant others in your life before leaving.
- What are your expectations
- Are they realistic
- What are your spouse’s expectations
- What activities will occupy your time
- Travel 
- Would you like to work part time 
- If so where
- Can you afford to retire 
- Are you emotionally and physically prepared 
Take all of the time that is necessary to evaluate your personal situation before sending in your retirement application. If you found this article helpful forward it to others in your organization that are planning their retirement.
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Distribute these FREE tools to others that are planning their retirement
- 2013 Excel Leave Chart (target 2013 retirement dates and determine exact leave balances for each date)
- 2012 Excel Leave Chart  (target 2012 retirement dates and determine exact leave balances for each date)
- How to be Emotionally and Physically Prepared When You Retire 
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- Survivor’s Guide 
- Estate Planning Guide (An 11 part series that will help readers prepare for retirement, understand basic estate planning techniques, and compile their personal “Survivor’s Guide” binder.)
The information provided may not cover all aspect of unique or special circumstances, federal regulations, and financial information is subject to change. To ensure the accuracy of this information, contact your benefits coordinator and ask them to review your official personnel file and circumstances concerning this issue. Retirees can contact the OPM retirement center. Our article is not intended nor should it be considered investment advice. Our articles and replies are time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic economic factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change.
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