Some people analyze every detail of their financial and personal lives down to the last detail, and have already established a firm date that they expect to retire. But those people are in the minority. For the rest of us, setting a retirement date feels like a complicated puzzle with quite a bit of emotion attached.

How do you know when it’s time to retire? What if it’s a mistake? How do you plan for the unexpected? Use these strategies to help determine the right time for your retirement.

Ask yourself how you view retirement. Does it sound restful and relaxing, or maybe exhilarating? Those are good signs. If you can’t picture retirement yet, or it sounds boring, you might not be ready to give up your career.

And of course, if you picture yourself rationing electricity and eating Ramen noodles in your retirement years, you’re definitely not ready!

Think back to your last vacation. How often did you think about work? Did you feel glad to leave it behind, or were you distracted by thoughts of getting back to the office? This exercise can tell you if you’re ready to leave your career in the past, or if it still serves as a central part of your identity and sense of purpose.

Make your “bucket list”. What are some things you wish to do with the rest of your life? Do you have time? Can you afford them?

Think about your average week in retirement. What kinds of activities do you plan on doing? Where will you eat? What kinds of social activities will you enjoy?

If you can’t even picture this part of your life yet, you might not be ready for it.

Create a detailed budget. What expenditures are necessary, which ones are a part of your retirement goals, and what is optional? Can you afford your ideal retirement, or at least something acceptable to you? Or does crunching the numbers bring up concerns?

Meet with us. We can help you analyze your budget, estimate your Social Security benefits, check in on the status of your retirement accounts, and help you determine whether you’re ready to retire. Then together we will set a date for your retirement.

But remember, if you don’t feel ready, there’s no pressure! We can always adjust your plans as things change. The important thing is to start planning now, so you will know what to expect.