What Motivates You to Retire? How Did Others Decide to Take the Leap?

Death. Illness. Prejudice. Guess what? They aren’t all entirely bad. In fact, according to a recent survey on the NewRetirement Facebook group, these are some of the strongest motivations that propel people toward retirement and living life on their own terms.

Just remember, there is no right motivation for retirement. In fact, not retiring is how some people are happiest. Retirement is an entirely personal decision. As Jeff wrote, “We all have to make decisions based on our circumstances. I remember being on the high dive board as a kid, deciding to make that jump. It is a deep breath moment when you look down. I am sure when it is time, you will know it is time.”

What motivates you to retire? Explore the 7 most mentioned inspirations recent (and soon-to-be) retirees had for taking the leap into retirement:

1. Covid-19

The pandemic has caused what some have termed “The great resignation.” Mass numbers of people are retiring for reasons related to the pandemic. Microsoft’s Work Trend Index report found that 41% of the global workforce are considering quitting their jobs and more than 30% of respondents in the NewRetirement survey mention Covid as a retirement motivator.

Some people couldn’t stand the workplace rules surrounding Covid. As Pam wrote, “Covid rules. Take this job and shove it.”

Others were happy to continue working and postpone retirement but intended to retire as soon as they had to return to the office. Dave said, “I already told my boss that as long as I can work from home, I will continue to work. But as soon as they call us back to work out of the office, I am retiring.”

Teachers and nurses were unsure that they wanted to continue on the front line of the disease.

And, Aline had a wake-up call when she caught the virus. She wrote that she was motivated to retire after, “Catching Covid and ending up in hospital followed by injury on the job. It was enough for me to say time to take care of me.”

Learn more about the great resignation.

2. Financial confidence

Being able to see how all of the financial pieces come together helps make leaving the workforce doable. Retirement doesn’t take $1 million. It takes a detailed plan. Many people find the motivation or confidence to retire once they feel good about their ability to pay for the rest of their life.

Julie summed it up by describing her motivation to retire: “Having the epiphany that I didn’t need the income and that I should use that blessing to enjoy every day to the fullest. Corporate life did not provide that.”

Janice wrote, “I had always enjoyed working, but one day I just looked up and said, I’m ready to get off! I was 64 and had begun working when I was 14. I remained on my husband’s health insurance till he retired a couple of years later. By then we were both at FRA. We enrolled in Medicare, I requested my full SS benefit and he requested the spousal benefit. He’s been doing IRA conversions and will switch to his benefit record at age 70 in just a few more months. We are happy with the way it has all come together.

Buddy intends to retire financially secure but will return to some kind of work on his own terms. He wrote, “Net pay and net retirement income were close to the same which allowed the opportunity for investments to continue to grow…Wanted to transition to a new career while “young” enough to do so…opportunity to reduce stress and improve health…ability to regain some time.”

What’s your plan? Use the NewRetirement Planner to get a plan for your future. It’s free, easy to use, and goes far beyond savings and investments. See how you can create retirement income and make sure that it is adequate to cover your expenses.

Do better with your time, taxes, investments, debt, housing, income, spending, medical and more. Make better decisions for a secure future.

3. Health

Health concerns are another big motivator for living the life you want to live — in retirement.

David wrote that he jumped into retirement after seeing too many people miss out on happy times. He said, “I had seen many people work too long and only retire due to ill health. I wanted to enjoy retired life while still healthy. I did start a little business, but now I control my own schedule and am doing what I enjoy.”

Kevin got out after enduring surgery. He explained, “Health issues — knee issues/replacement then a slow recovery with a lot of fatigue — expedited [retirement]. It just didn’t seem worth it to go back for maybe a couple of years more.”

Tim made the decision to retire on his way to the hospital. He said, “Was in a bike accident. In the ambulance, it struck me as the prudent thing to do.”

4. Death of a loved one

There is no better motivator for living life on your own terms than confronting death. Losing a loved one is devastating, but it can help you re-prioritize your own life. And, for some people that means retiring.

Sheryl was impacted by the deaths of family members. She reflected, “We lost my brother (he was 28) and his Dad only enjoyed 3 years of retirement and passed away at 58. Life is short. We didn’t want to spend it working.”

Kay wrote that her motivation to retire was, “Death of a close friend. Made me appreciate time is short. Live life to the fullest.”

The research is overwhelming that there are tremendous benefits to confronting and thinking about death. According to data summarized in Science Daily, thinking about death can:

  • Improve physical health
  • Prompt positive life changes
  • Motivate you to help other people and “Increase expressions of tolerance, egalitarianism, compassion, empathy, and pacifism”

5. Ageism and early retirement packages

Ageism is rampant. A recent AARP study found that in 2018, 61% of older workers had experienced ageism. That number increased to 78% in 2020. And, research from New York University found that workers who openly oppose racism and sexism were still prejudiced against older workers.

Even then, less than 10% of people in the NewRetirement survey mentioned ageism as a motivator for retirement, but some did.

Jeff wrote, “Ageism is real and older workers in IT are not appreciated. My company offered an early retirement package. If I did not accept the package, I was at risk of layoff down the road. The company saw no long-term value in me at my age.”

6. Stagnation on the job

Retirement is defined as slowing down. However, sometimes the real slow down is the job itself and the worker is ready to leave behind the stagnation for more vibrancy.

Doug wrote about not seeing any new challenges. He said, “My boss wasn’t going anywhere, the client wasn’t purchasing new properties, same stuff every year. So, I figured it was time to go and do something that I’d like. I moved out of state, playing pickleball, bike riding, going to the beach and pool, taking it easy until I am sure what I want the next step to be. Might involve teacher or other part-time work.”

Sam was ready for something new. He felt, “Tired of the toxic culture of my job with no opportunity to advance.”

Kevin put his work woes more succinctly, “I got tired of the BS.”

7. Ready to focus on family, travel, and/or leisure

Oddly enough, lifestyle considerations like family, travel, and other leisure activities were not widely mentioned in the survey.

Other research has found that travel and hobbies are a big factor for people wanting to retire. However, they may not be the reason people finally decide to quit.

What is your retirement motivation?

Are you retiring away from something? To something?

Are you financially ready for all of the adventures that await you?

Use the NewRetirement Planner to imagine your future and discover ways to achieve it.


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