Skip to content

20 Subtle Signs You're Not Ready to Retire

Don't rush—those golden pastures of leisure aren't going anywhere.

Calling all office drones: How does the prospect of retirement sound? You know: Powering through your bucket list, spending a ton of time with loved ones, and just generally living a laissez-faire daily existence. If that sounds just peachy, well, you might be in the in the minority. According to a recent survey conducted by Sun America, seven out of 10 people would rather work through their golden years than sit around with all that extra time on their hands.

As with any other big change in your life, there are subtle actions that you take that affect the outcome of that change—in this case, your actions can impact whether or not it's time to retire. For example, if you haven't yet given any thought to what your financial future will look like without a steady paycheck—or you would rather go to a job you hate than face any day spent toiling alone—perhaps retirement isn't in the cards for you just yet. To know for sure, familiarize yourself with these subtle signs. You'll instantly know if you're ready for the golden pastures of all-day leisure—or need to spend a few more years in the daily grind.

You still identify yourself by your job.

Businessman Shaking Hands Not Ready to Retire

When you first meet someone new, do you quickly dive into what you do for a living? This might mean that you're still hung up on your identity in the workforce, rather than seeing yourself as a unique individual. While there is nothing wrong with this, per se, it does point to the fact that you may not be ready to retire after all, according to Katie Ross, manager of education and development for American Consumer Credit Counseling.

Opportunities to advance in your career still thrill you.

Woman Leading Business Meeting Not Ready to Retire

If you're still looking forward to the next stage of your career, then retirement will only make you feel as though you missed out on certain career advancements. According to the Retire by 40 organization, those who still seek a thrill in the corporate world will only suffer from boredom when they finally retire. So, if opportunities to further your career are still available and thrill you like little else in your life, go for it—retirement will be there when you're ready.

Your only social life is at work.

coworkers taking a selfie Not Ready to Retire

Think about it: we spend most of our time on Earth at work—meaning that the relationships we develop with our coworkers are deep and impactful. So, if you're still getting your gossip fix at work, how are you going to feel when that suddenly goes away? When you actually have to make more of an effort to see your friends and family without the convenience of stepping into the place where you also receive a paycheck? Retire by 40 suggests that, if you're truly ready to retire, you'll strengthen those social ties outside of the workplace to accommodate your new life.

You don't enjoy having alone time.

Lonely Woman Not Ready to Retire

If you don't enjoy alone time now, you'll especially dread it when you try to come up with ways to fill your time when you're not working. Even if your spouse will also be retired, you'll still have to face days with only your shadow for company. If you're still craving human contact, then retirement may not be the best idea for you right now.

You haven't planned anything to do after you retire.

Man with Calendar Not Ready to Retire

If you have yet to create a travel bucket list or make any plans for ways to spend your time during retirement, then you aren't actively envisioning a future without a job. Will you finally fix up that old Chevy pickup truck sitting in the garage? Or maybe start going on morning walks with your dog every day? If these thoughts haven't even crossed your mind, then you're definitely not ready for retirement, says Retire by 40.

You haven't been planning your financial future.

Budgeting money Not Ready to Retire

Similar to planning future trips and projects, if you haven't even begun to think about your financial future, your goal of retiring by a certain age may be in jeopardy. According to financial expert Michelle Smith of Consumer Credit, you should start by factoring the total amount of your basic needs like utilities, mortgage, and food—and then delve into the deeper things like social security payments. Making sure that you're financially set after you retire is perhaps the most important element in planning your life after leaving the workforce for good.

You don't have any interests or hobbies.

bored elderly woman Not Ready to Retire

If your career has served as your main hobby for decades, then finding other things to devote your attention to may not seem very appealing. If the idea of finding other hobbies and interests does not appeal to you, then retirement will only bore you to no end.

You've surrounded yourself with people who refuse to retire.

Old friends Not Ready to Retire

Knowing when it's right to call it quits can become an even more confusing question when you've only surrounded yourself with people who have no desire to retire. If you have no firsthand examples of post-career happiness, then picturing yourself retiring can be nearly impossible. If you're not actively surrounding yourself with others who plan to retire, then you may be setting yourself up to work forever on purpose—though you may not know that you're doing it in the moment. If you'd really like to get to know more people who have had meaningful lives after retirement, then begin to branch out and make friends with people who have.

You take care of yourself.

Older People Doing Yoga Not Ready to Retire

Yes, if you're actually taking great care of your mental and physical health, then it shows that you're handling the stress of your everyday work life well, and plans of retirement haven't yet begun to fester and take over your thoughts. You don't have to be a genius to understand how stress from work can take a toll on your body, inspiring you to eat more than your fair share of fatty foods and failing to exercise because you just don't want to find the time. According to a study conducted by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, 55 percent of retirees actually retired early due to health problems—so if you are feeling healthier than ever and working, chances are retirement isn't as enticing to you.

You're sick of traveling.

Woman Sick of Traveling Not Ready to Retire

If you're sick of traveling now, or the thought of spending any more time in an airplane or car traveling from one destination to the next completely bores you, then the opportunity to do more of this when you retire is completely revolting. Since traveling is more often than not the one thing that most people look forward to come retirement, an aversion to such a time-wasting hobby will only add to the boredom you experience after hours of sitting around in your home.

You like spending your hard-earned money.

Elderly Couple Shopping Not Ready to Retire

If you're still attempting to keep up with the Joneses, then chances are you aren't ready to save for your retirement. If you feel a sense of pride when that paycheck hits your bank account, then slowly eating through your retirement nest egg will only make you feel guilty for no longer bringing anything to the table. If you'd rather spend money than save it, you're not ready to say goodbye to your job.

You want an even bigger home.

Older Couple Looking at Home Not Ready to Retire

If you're still looking to upgrade your home to something more spacious and luxurious, again, you're not keeping your financial future in check. Chances are, your desire to upgrade to something nicer indicates that you're not ready to downsize and prepare for a time in your life when money is no longer coming in.

You already get enough sleep.

Older Man Sleeping Not Ready to Retire

It's true—if you already get enough sleep, then the thought of having even more daylight to sleep through isn't exactly appealing. For many retirees, the thing to look forward to is finally being able to steal some quality shuteye after years of not having the option. So, if you're already receiving your desired eight hours of sleep while clocking in the time at work, then there's really no incentive waiting for you after you say goodbye to the corporate world.

Your retirement back-up plan is to find another job.

Older Person Applying to Job Not Ready to Retire

According to personal finance and retirement expert Katie Brockman, expecting to get your old job back, or even any job that requires a certain skill set, can be incredibly tricky after you're already retired. "The workforce is becoming increasingly competitive, and it may be more difficult for older workers—especially those who have been out of practice for a few years—to return to work. Senior citizens are also more prone to injuries and illnesses that could prevent them from working," Brockman said. So if you're already planning to try and get back into the workforce after retiring, you're not ready for a life without a career.

You don't check-up on your savings fund.

Older Man Looking at Savings Not Ready to Retire

While it is understandable that you may not want to check your bank account balance every day, staying on top of your savings will allow you to keep tabs on your financial future. If you have no idea how much money you currently have saved, then retirement is most likely far off your radar, says Brockman.

Paying off debt is not a top priority.

Woman Paying Off Debt Not Ready to Retire

Similarly, if you're not aware of your credit score, or that pile of growing debt doesn't faze you at all, then putting together a plan to deal with it before retirement is probably not even on your mind. If paying off your debt is not a top priority, then retirement is also, unsurprisingly, not your top priority.

You still have dependents.

mom comforting grown daughter Not Ready to Retire

If you're still caring for your children or even an elderly parent, you're spending precious money that could have gone to your retirement fund. According to the Pew Research Center, around 15 percent of people age 40 to 59 are providing care to both their children and parents—and their retirements are suffering for it. Often, when you're leaning into financial burdens such as these, you feel the need to keep working to remain financially secure.

You and your spouse are on different pages.

Older Couple Not Ready to Retire

According to Kevin Schwarz, a financial advisor at Concord Wealth Management, if you and your spouse are not on the same page about retirement then it could possibly lead to arguments further down the line. "Your spouse might not be ready to retire with you or might still need your income to pay for current expenses," Schwarz said. Further, it might be lonely for one of you to retire without the other, since time after a job will be much harder to fill. So, if you haven't even factored in your spouse's retirement plan, then you're truly ready to begin a life outside of the corporate world.

You haven't talked to a retirement planning lawyer.

Older Couple Talking to Lawyer Not Ready to Retire

If you have yet to seek advice from a retirement planning lawyer, then you're probably not taking your future very seriously. A retirement planning lawyer can assist you in your goals by planning your financial future—an important step that many often neglect on their quest to leave the working world behind. If you haven't yet reached out to a retirement planning lawyer (or an accountant) then you're fully thinking your retirement plan through.

You only have one income stream.

working woman at the office next to her laptop Not Ready to Retire

According to the National Council of Aging, one-third of senior households don't have much money left over after paying the bills, so if you're only working from one income stream, you might be at a greater risk for financial troubles further down the line. Investing or attempting to seek out a side hustle now, before you plan to retire, may be a smart move in order to ensure stability later on. Again, this ties in to planning your finances before you retire—if this isn't something that's even crossed your mind, you're in no rush to quit your job.

Ashley Moor
Ashley hails from Dayton, Ohio, and has more than six years of experience in print and digital media. Read more
Filed Under