Why I Decided To Retire

2014-07-09 12.03.56

This post is part of a series reflecting on the end of my traditional working life as I prepare for retirement this week.

I’m 52 this year which many might consider a bit young to retire and it’s not like I didn’t have other options, but in the end I decided that this was the best one and as it’s grown nearer I’ve become more confident in my decision.  I had three main alternatives open to me:

  1. Stay at work and soldier on in an environment that had stopped being fun and didn’t look like it was going to become so again in the foreseeable future
  2. Stay employed but on extended sick pay,  this was an option that was open to me because I’d taken out expensive, but comprehensive, insurance that was based on my ability to do the job for which I was originally employed.  I’d not been able to do that job for several years, but I was soldiering on in a highly modified version, working reduced hours. I’d reached the point where everyone agreed I could stop working altogether
  3. Push for a full and final settlement from my extended sick pay provider, that gave me enough money to retire

Staying at work was by far the most lucrative option, full time sick pay dropped my income by 25% and retiring dropped my income still further but life’s not all about money.  Staying at work was stressful, constraining, frustrating and uncertain; full time sick status effectively put my life on hold, in a waiting pattern; but retiring allowed me to make a fresh start and after 30 years at work I fancied a fresh start.  Retiring also provided a tax free lump sum, which gives me tremendous flexibility in how I draw it down and a wonderful sense of long term financial security.  In the end the decision was easy, downsize my financial life a little in return for financial security, personal freedom and the time and energy to work on my health.

It’s worth just looking briefly at the downside of being on full time sick pay, which at first sight might seem to offer more money with the same freedom from work, what’s the catch?  The catch is uncertainty, being off sick is a temporary status, it’s reviewed every year, if my health were to improve I’d be thrust back into work in a flash. Imagine that after a few years I was able to return to work but I’d be out of date with technology, without my contact network and out of practice with the world of work – in other words a perfect candidate for redundancy.  So effectively my financial security would depend on ‘staying’ too sick to work, hardly a healthy mental frame of mind to live with.

Retirement by contrast carries with it no such negative mental health implications,  I’m free to dedicate myself to improving my health in retirement without the ‘threat’ that succeeding would result in increased financial risk.  That change in attitude is easily worth a little more frugal living, which frankly I’m looking forward to.  Of course there’s no guarantee that my health will improve with retirement, but at least I’m free to give it a go.

I’m writing this post in Caffe Nero a few weeks before I retire, but the post will be published a few days earlier.  I’m 95% recovered from 3 months of the worst flare in years which nicely cemented my decision to retire, but today is a good day, the sun is shining, I’m relaxed, pain free and looking forward to a walk in the Lakes later this week (pictured) to celebrate my new found freedom.

The replies to this post all ended up on Facebook, so I’m repeating them here:

Alex Brown, Jack M. Oliveira, Brian Lawless and 17 others like this.

Lewis Richards Vaya con dios amigo!
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Unlike · Reply · 1 · June 8 at 8:34am

Russell Hunter Good on you, great decision enjoy Steve!
Unlike · Reply · 1 · June 8 at 8:45am

Russell Hunter Maybe you can give me some career advice one day!
Unlike · Reply · 1 · June 8 at 8:46am

Steve Richards Any time Russ!
Like · Reply · June 8 at 8:48am

Alex Thompson I’m sure a guy with your tremendous ability and vision will not be retired for long Steve, even if it’s not in IT. All the best for your fresh start
Unlike · Reply · 1 · June 8 at 9:10am

Gail Morton Way to go Steve, enjoy xxx
Unlike · Reply · 1 · June 8 at 9:38am

Simon Curtis Cool choice Steve well done mate
Unlike · Reply · 1 · June 8 at 10:01am

Martin Fryatt Steve – definitely the right decision. It will be a shame to see you go, but don’t blame you. Look forward to reading about what your next chapter brings…
Unlike · Reply · 1 · June 8 at 11:35am

Samantha Sheppard Good luck on the next adventure. I have always enjoyed reading your blog and will continue to read about this next chapter. See you soon x
Unlike · Reply · 2 · June 8 at 12:54pm

Mike Lee Good Luck Steve Richards
Unlike · Reply · 1 · June 8 at 2:12pm

Mark Goodridge I’m sure you have considered carefully, and come to the correct decision. I’m also sure you’ll enjoy and revel in the freedom – good luck and enjoy the fresh start.
Unlike · Reply · 1 · June 8 at 3:04pm

Simon Beare Steve. I think I speak for many people when I say you have been an inspiration. Your vision and leadership has shaped a generation.

Sadly I have to agree with your assessment of a the current climate. I think you have made the right choice.

You will be sadly missed, those sessions on the balcony, the adventures at the PTMC, right back the the BAE days at Warton. It’s been one hell of an 18 year journey!

Please keep up the writing and blogging.

Finally I’d like to say a big thank you for all you have done for so many of us.

Good luck with your new life.
Unlike · Reply · 5 · June 8 at 10:33pm

Steve Richards Brought at ear to my eye, thanks Simon you’re too kind!
Like · Reply · June 9 at 6:28am

John McCaffrey Steve Richards the very best of luck on your personal journey, I am sure it will be as interesting and colourful as the journey so far. Somebody with your drive and intelligence ain’t never going to retire not as I understand it anyway.
Unlike · Reply · 1 · June 9 at 12:22am

Neil Hodgkinson First met you back in 2001 when I joined CSC and working with the awesome team in the PTMC. A real pleasure to work bot with and for and I wish you all the very best for the next chapter
Unlike · Reply · 1 · June 9 at 12:56am

Nigel Healy You have a very sharp mind. It pains me you have it fogged by personal incapacity. CSC was made stronger for your presence and your character does humanity proud in the adversity. Welcome to the ex-CSC club.
Unlike · Reply · 1 · June 9 at 6:54am

Steve Richards I’m planning to work hard on that ‘physical incapacity’ for a few years, right now I’m feeling great, but who knows when the next flare will come …
Like · Reply · June 9 at 7:06am

Nigel Healy The retirement decision is one aspect, but once you’ve put that aside there is still that unwritten page you want to write.
Like · Reply · June 9 at 7:13am

Steve Richards That’s for a blog post later in the week
Like · Reply · June 9 at 7:52am
Steve Richards

Martyn Dews The end of an era Steve. Sorry to see you leave but of course you have to do what’s best for you. Many thanks for the support and advice over the years. Hopefully you’ll still be around on FB and Twitter as I need the regular fix of interesting debate that we often get into.
Unlike · Reply · 1 · June 9 at 12:12pm

Steve Richards I will, but thankfully (for everyone) not at quite the posting rate this I’ve kept up this week!
Like · Reply · 1 · June 9 at 12:14pm

David Turner Steve, wish you all the very best on your new path. Myself and Stuart Ball still talk about you now as having a brain the size of a planet and being years ahead with your vision and foresight. It was an absolute pleasure working with you and you can be proud that you helped so many people with their careers as they learned so much from you. But most importantly….an exceptionally nice and warm hearted man!!
Like · Reply · 2 · June 9 at 1:29pm
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Simon Beare You’ve just reminded me that we used to say that having a meeting with Steve was like going for a walk with a dog (no offence Steve!). You would be slowly plodding along whilst Steve was intellectually charging ahead. He would be off into the distance looking a new ideas and concepts. He would rush back to you to see how you were doing, and then be off into the ‘undergrowth’ on some tangential idea. Only to emerge a while later with a big grin on his face about a completely new idea he’d discovered. All the mean time you were just plodding along trying to keep up. And as Matt Hayes just said, you would be knackered and Steve had covered 8 times the distance that you had!

Steve Richards Lol, you guys are all making me laugh
Like · Reply · June 9 at 1:52pm

John McCaffrey What a great analogy, I just used to take my guide dog along for meetings with Steve he was called Graham Chastney 😀😀
Like · Reply · 2 · June 9 at 10:46pm
Steve Richards

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

3 Responses

  1. Steve Townend says:

    Steve, initially I was surprised at your decision as I remember your passion for work (or more correctly for technology and its beneficial impact). However I thought that your reasons would make good reading and indeed they were. I can fully understand how you would feel constrained in a work environment that no longer gave you the buzz that you thrived upon. That, in itself, is not a good state of mind when battling illness and upon reading about the status of your illness, I can see how your mental state will improve as a result of retiring and that can only be a good thing. So, I wish you the very best and will eagerly watch your retirement unfold. I am sure that we will stay in touch over FB etc.

  2. Thanks Steve, I’ve changed quite a lot in the last 10 years as I’ve learned how to find the buzz outside of work as much as I used to find it at work. You might enjoy reminiscing along with me in some of the blog posts that I’m publishing later this week 😉

  1. January 7, 2017

    […] Why I Decided To Retire this explains my unusual circumstances, the rest of the posts are relevant to most people […]

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