Q: What is the ideal time for retirement?
A: Though each person's timing for retirement will vary, probably many of us would be better off to consider working beyond the usual retirement age of 65.1 The coming generations will likely experience extended longevity, possibly living thirty to forty years past 65. Even if you have saved enough money to cover such a lengthy period, your physical, cognitive, social and emotional health will likely benefit from continued engagement.
If your paid work is enjoyable, then you might decide to continue working as long as you feel capable. The baby boomer retirement will cause a "brain drain" that will probably make companies more willing to offer part-time and flexible hours to retain skilled workers. When the time comes, think about approaching your employer about working out a schedule that fits with your needs and lifestyle desires.
Even if you don't want to continue in your established career, try to find other ways to stay engaged intellectually and socially. When people do retire, what they miss the most is the social contact from their jobs. You might explore options for paid or volunteer work in another field altogether, or maybe you'll want to offer your skills to a charitable organization that touches your heart.
When people are forced to retire before they planned, it is usually because a health problem or a loved one's health made continued work impossible. Take care of your health now so that you can retire on your own terms when the time is right for you.
Lifelong intellectual and social engagement, whether paid or unpaid, is correlated with greater life satisfaction and health. Explore your options for staying in the game in whatever way suits you.
1 Laura Carstensen, A Long Bright Future: Happiness, Health, and Financial Security in an Age of Increased Longevity (New York: Random House Crown, 2011).