By: Nanette Fairley
September 16, 2021


This week, someone close to me got a challenging medical diagnosis.  While I felt the emotional roller coast ride for them, I also felt grateful that I had made, what was a difficult decision at the time.  To leave full-time employment two and a half years ago now and below the ‘normal’ statutory age.  There were a million reasons not to:

  • I was ‘throwing away’ an awesome job and career
  • I was giving up a good, full-time salary
  • I was only in my early 50’s
  • I would have no one to ‘play’ with as all my peers are still working
  • I would get bored
  • I would feel unfulfilled
  • I would feel ashamed that my peers were still working and I wasn’t
  • I would no longer have a purpose or identity
  • I couldn’t contribute to society any more, I would be invisible
  • I would constantly be worried about money
  • And the list goes on…………

But there are also as many reasons to do so and some of these swayed my eventual decision……

  • I could do other things that needed time that were not possible while working full-time
  • I would have more time to focus on my health with the goal of extending my ‘healthspan’
  • I could take advantage of my fitness now to do some physical challenges I am keen to do, as who knows when that might change
  • I could find ways to give back, a core value of mine, and something not always easy to find time for with a full-time demanding job
  • I could begin to tick off the list of places I wanted to travel to and experience – and that list is going to take more than a decade to explore!
  • I could work through all the things I wanted to learn that had sat on my ‘someday/maybe’ list for years
  • I would have more time to spend with family and friends
  • I could take advantage of all the spontaneous opportunities that I had declined in the past
  • I could flex much more than is possible within the confines of a corporate role
  • And this list goes on too………..

You won’t often hear me calling it ‘retirement’, as these days we can have so much more than a sedentary life which that word suggests.  But if you are struggling to decide when is the best time to ‘retire’ or step out of full-time employment, perhaps begin to paint a picture for yourself of what life will look like once you do.  What will you do once the initial honeymoon period is over?  What will a typical week look like?  How will it feel?  What is your plan for your what’s next?  Maybe even take some time off and do a trial run.  If you can create that picture for yourself you will be drawn towards it and the decision to leave full-time employment will be easier.

I hear you say ‘but I don’t have enough money yet!’ Sure your finances are important but they cannot be the sole driver for deciding when you step out of full-time employment. It’s kind of like planning a holiday and only focusing on the budget – not your destination, what you will do on holiday or what you will experience. To help you put your finances into perspective do you need good financial advice?  Do you need to unpick why you still need the security of a full-time pay check when you appear to have saved enough?  Could a half way step help – like finding a part-time role so you still have some income being generated from your work?

Granted, making the decision to step out of full-time employment is not always the easiest one.  Some people instinctively know when they are ready, some overstay their time in full-time employment, others have no plan to make this transition possible.  Whatever you do, don’t let your Third Age – that wonderful, flexible time after full-time employment ends – be taken away from you.

#ifnotnowwhen  #thirdage  #retirement  #bigdecisions