This is a really complicated decision and in a sense there is no right or wrong answer to this question. It is a very personal decision and one of the biggest decisions we make in our adult lives. I can’t tell you what the best decision is for you but I can suggest some of the issues you need to think through in making your decision.
Obviously one of these areas of consideration is financial. If you feel you are at a point that you can live comfortably on a fixed income and/or you have a spouse that also brings resources to the marriage, this may not be a real barrier. In addition, you would certainly have the option of working part-time to supplement your social security and pension benefits, up to certain limits determined by law. If you are married or in a committed relationship, this is obviously an issue that the two of you need to discuss in detail. A lot depends on the expenses that would be associated with the life you want to live after retirement.
Other issues are quality of life issues connected with your work life and what you would like to do in retirement. A lot of people become less excited about their work over time and many even get “burned out” and find it very aversive to keep going to their job every day. We change, and so do the systems in which we work: The fields of education, health care and business in corporate settings have changed drastically in the past several decades just to name a few.
If you truly find it aversive to continue working in your chosen field or if you no longer feel you are doing the work in the way it should be done, you have a couple of options. While there can be some very real obstacles to changing jobs at this age, people are often able to find opportunities in related fields or even change to a completely different type of work. This works if you willing to learn something new and don’t mind the fact that most such moves involve a decrease in pay. Moving to part-time work is another option and going back to school (yes, you can learn new things at any age!) are other possibilities if you can afford them.
Whether you decide to retire soon or wait and retire down the road, you will want to give thought to what you picture your retirement to be like. Do you have interests that you know you want to pursue? Do you want to spend more time with family? Do you plan to travel? Does your spouse have a similar vision of retirement? Retirement can bring unexpected changes in your sense of identity and purpose that you may not be psychologically prepared for and can present challenges in your relationship because you are suddenly both around one another a lot more than you used to be.
Ultimately, you are the one that has to decide whether it is in your best interest and will promote the quality of your life to retire sooner rather than later. Many people decide to do so and most are very happy with their decision. No matter when you decide to make this change, it will usher in a new chapter in your life and you will be the author.