3 Reasons to Keep Your Retirement a Secret (Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You!)
Retirement is one of the most important milestones of a person’s life. So, for those of us hard-working (and lucky) enough to actually be able to retire, it is only natural that we would want to scream about our success from the rooftops.
There’s just one problem… talking about your retirement too early could be one of the worst financial decisions that you ever make. Not only could it cost you bonuses and opportunities in the short term, but, it could severely limit your future earning potential. And, trust me, even if you think that you won’t need any additional money in retirement, chances are, you will!
So, here are 3 reasons that you may want to keep your retirement plans to yourself, even if you never plan on working again in the future.
Don’t Be a Lame Duck Employee
No matter which kind of company you work for, chances are you are pretty used to dealing with workplace politics. By now, you have encountered pushy co-workers who seem to rise through the ranks despite their lack of tangible skills. And, you have spent plenty of time around managers who have their favorite employees despite their claims of neutrality.
Even at the best run companies, the performance review process is messy, political and ruthless. The last thing you want to do is give your boss one more reason to “push you off the boat” in favor of a younger employee with years ahead of them. This is especially true in companies that grade employees based on a curve.
But, if you think about it, this is exactly what you do when you start talking about your retirement plans too early; you are signaling to your manager (and his boss) that you are no longer a long-term bet for the company. Why would they go the extra mile for you if you are already sitting in the dugout, drinking the retirement Kool-Aid.
So, my advice is this… if you care about your bonus, performance review and potential salary increase, don’t be in a hurry to talk about your upcoming retirement. Trust me! Any small ego boost that you receive will be crushed under the weight of missed financial opportunities.
Keep Your Options Open for the Future
Over the last few years, I have talked to hundreds of men and women who have successfully launched a consulting business in retirement. And, do you know where 90% of them got their first customers? That’s right! From their previous employer or other businesses that they had worked with in the past.
“Retirement” is a powerful word that conjures strong emotions. When you tell others that you are retiring, they immediately start to put you in the “Relaxing on the beech and playing golf” category. They just can’t help it. It’s human nature to categorize others based on their life stage.
So, even if you do plan on relaxing for some (or all) of your retirement years, if there is even the smallest possibility that you will want to work again in the future, you may be better off telling your co-workers and business partners that you are leaving to start your own business.
Who cares if you actually do this or not? At least you will give yourself more options!
Then, as you transition away from your day job, make sure that you stay in touch with everyone on LinkedIn. Congratulate them on their career moves and pay attention to when they are mentioned in the press. There is no downside (and plenty of upside) to staying engaged!
Don’t Trick Yourself into Black and White Thinking About Retirement
The last reason to keep your retirement a secret has to do with your own psychology. Our perceptions of retirement are formed over the decades by what we see on TV, movies and on the Internet. The truth is that “retirement” is not as simple a concept as society would like us to believe.
When you start to talk about your future retirement plans, you make it less likely that you will be willing to change course if your situation changes. For example, if you think that retirement means playing golf 3 times a week, traveling and playing with the grandkids, you will feel like a failure if you end up needing to work part-time to make ends meet. And, this may make you less likely to do what it takes to build a comfortable life in retirement.
The truth is that no-one knows what retirement will be like until it arrives. Even then, it sometimes takes years for the reality of your new situation to sink in.
Maybe you will find that you don’t actually hate working after all… just working at that company. Perhaps you will hang up your beech towel in favor of new psychology textbooks… or sell your house to volunteer in Africa. Who knows? Not me! And, probably not you either!
At the end of the day, what you do in retirement (or if you even choose to retire) is nobody’s business but your own. So, don’t trade a few half-hearted pats on the back for a less secure retirement. Stay engaged, keep your options open and embrace the final third or your life with passion and purpose.
Do you plan on talking about your retirement plans? Why or why not? Let’s have a conversation!