Top 10 Tips for Retiring From Your Job

How to Go From Working to Retired

Woman working in wood shop
••• Trinette Reed/Stocksy United

Are you thinking about retiring? Considering whether to retire is one of the most difficult career decisions that a worker can make. Employees are often earning their maximum income at the point of retirement so the financial implications can be profound. 

Choosing the right time to retire can help workers to enjoy the most meaning and satisfaction during their senior years. Careful planning about the transition from full-time employment to retirement can enhance your chances of making a smooth adjustment.  

Top 10 Tips for Retiring From Your Job

1. Be sure you really want to retire. Don't confuse an unsatisfying job situation with an imperative to retire. Ask yourself if you would still retire if you were carrying out your job duties in a better situation. For example, if you had a more supportive boss, or worked at an organization which did a better job of recognizing contributions, would you prefer to continue working?

2. Check out alternative careers. Employees who are working in a job which is not a good match for their skills, values and interests are more likely to rush a retirement. Make sure that you wouldn't be happier with a career change than with retirement. If you have any doubts, consult a career counselor and see if you come up with any inspiring alternatives.

3. Make sure you can afford it. Track your expenses so that you have a realistic handle on how much income you will need to sustain your preferred lifestyle. Factor in changes that you would anticipate after retirement. For example, you might spend less on work clothes and commuting but spend more on travel and vacations.

4. Consider phasing in retirementIf you need to generate some income or would prefer to continue with some employment, consider exploring the possibility of reducing your hours at your current employer to phase in retirement. In some cases, your employer might also consider retaining you in some other role if you are looking to downshift in order to reduce stress. For example, a salesperson in a high-pressure sales environment might take on a much less stressful role in customer service.

5. Get health insurance. Investigate options for healthcare coverage and know the costs. Meet with a member of the Human Resources staff so that you are fully aware of any post-retirement benefits offered and the implications for your transition.

6. Meet with a financial planner. Consult a financial planner to gain a realistic view of your retirement income. Visit the Social Security Administration website or your local office to obtain an estimate of your benefits.  Reach out to representatives from your pension or 401k plans to identify your income potential from those sources.  

7. Get references. ​Secure references from key individuals at your organization while you are still in close contact. Many retirees decide to return to the workforce or pursue volunteer positions which require recommendations.

8. Leave your job on a good note. Finish out your tenure of employment in a positive way. Work hard until the end and resist the temptation to criticize any supervisors or co-workers as you depart. You may take on endeavors which require background checks in the future.

9. Figure out what you are going to do with your time. Consider how you will spend your time when you are retired. It may seem enticing to escape the stress of work and just lounge around in retirement, but most retirees need more than relaxation to lead a satisfying life. Take stock of your interests and values, and meet with a career and life planner for help, if necessary. Revisit passions which you may have pushed aside for practical reasons. Most retirees are happier if they have some formal engagements like freelance work, a part-time job or a volunteer position.


10. Do some test runs. Are you worried about how satisfied you might be with your anticipated retirement activities? Perhaps the best way to prepare for retirement is to take some extended time away for a trial run. Test out some of your planned retirement pursuits while still employed, if feasible. For example, you might start to volunteer, or do some consulting or freelance writing to explore the viability of those options.