实际情况也确实如此。一大批老年工作者曾经面临强制性的退休年龄政策，就在今年开春之前，英国还一直将65岁定为“常规退休年龄”（Default Retirement Age）。过了65岁，雇主可以直接以员工年纪大为由把他们解雇。
但目前，英国的DRA基本上已经被逐步取消，而且社会规范也在不断变化。美国劳工统计局（Bureau of Labor Statistics）的统计显示，在美国，65岁至74岁的劳动力参与率从1988年的16.1%上升到2008年的25.1%。虽然这种上升趋势从经济繁荣时期便开始，而不是在近期经济衰退期间突然出现，但毫无疑问，老年工作人口的增加在很大程度上是生活所迫。但即便老年人衣食无忧，或者可以轻松应付基本生活负担，但老年工作人口的增加却引发了新的问题：如果没有社会规范或法律，最理想的退休年龄应该是多大？哪些迹象表明你应该继续工作，而哪些迹象则表明是时候开启新生活了？
专家表示，最大的变数是老年人对自己目前工作的感受。贝琪•维尔利是转型网（Transitions network） 的执行董事，该公司的客户主要是50岁以上的女性，她们希望寻求个人和职业生活的新方向。她说：“大部分时间都是消极的感受。早上醒来，一想到要去上班，就痛不欲生。”
1. 工作之外，我是否还有个人生活？马克•米勒是退休规划网站Retirement Revised的负责人，他说：“职场生活是组成个人社会生态的一大部分。”
3. 退休以后做什么？悉尼•拉吉尔表示：“如果你有一大堆事情迫切希望能够实现，说明你的精神状态适合退休。如果打算只是看看电视，那肯定会厌倦。”悉尼•拉吉尔在刚过40岁的时候，便从一家风险投资公司退休，目前在撰写一个博客，名为“悉尼的退休生活”（Retired Syd） 。
《退休不逢时》（Too Young To Retire） 一书的联合作者、退休事务导师霍华德•斯通建议，以五年后自己的角度，给自己（或朋友或导师）写一封信。假设在未来，你已经创造了一种理想的生活。斯通表示：“想象着这种生活已经到来，然后把它写下来。”
The first wave of Baby Boomers turned 65 earlier this year. Once, that was the official retirement age, the birthday after which you could spend entire Tuesdays on the golf course with no judgment. It was also the age at which people would start to look askance at the office.
Indeed, a broad swath of older workers once faced mandatory retirement age policies, and until this spring, Great Britain had a "Default Retirement Age" (DRA) of 65. Past that, an employer could dismiss an employee simply because she was getting on in years.
But Britain's DRA has now been largely phased out, and social norms are changing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the U.S., the labor force participation rate among people aged 65 to 74 rose from 16.1% in 1988 to 25.1% in 2008. To be sure, the increased participation among older workers is at least partly due to financial necessity -- though the increase began during good times, rather than simply spiking during the recent recession. But even if you are financially comfortable, or if you can be flexible with living expenses, this increase in working seniors raises different questions: in the absence of social norms or laws, when is the right time to retire? What are the signs that you should stay, and what are the signs it's time to move on?
The biggest variable, experts say, is how you feel about your current job. "A lot of times, that can be something negative," says Betsy Werley, executive director of the Transitions Network, an organization for women over age 50 who are exploring what's next in their personal and professional lives. "You wake up in the morning and can't stand the thought of going to work."
Then it's definitely time to pick a quit date. If you don't loathe your work, however, then here are three more questions experts recommend asking before penning your resignation letter:
1. Do I have a life outside of my job? "Your work life is a big part of your social ecology," says Mark Miller, who runs the website Retirement Revised.
Even if you don't necessarily like your colleagues, humans are social creatures and need people to talk with on a regular basis. If you don't have a social network outside of your workplace, then you need to build one before you give notice, or else you'll wind up missing the water cooler fast.
2. How will this affect my family? Is your spouse ready to retire, or is he or she already retired? Or perhaps your spouse has no intention of retiring, which can cause tension if you assumed you'd spend all your time together. You may prefer work dinners with clients to eating in a romantic Caribbean restaurant, all alone.
Of course, if your children and grandchildren need time and attention, that can affect the decision as well; few jobs let you take off for eight weeks to care for your grandchildren while your adult child is going through a divorce.
3. What else can I see myself doing? "If you have a big list of things you're dying to get to, you're in good shape," says Sydney Lagier, who retired from a venture capital firm in her early 40s, and now pens a blog called Retired Syd. "If you are just going to watch TV you're not going to like it."
People get a big chunk of their identity from work, and in its absence, you need to redefine yourself. How would you identify yourself at a party? If you don't have an answer to that question right now, spend some time coming up with one.
Howard Stone, co-author of Too Young To Retire and a retirement coach, recommends writing a letter to yourself (or a friend or mentor) from the perspective of you, five years from now. In this future scenario, you've created your ideal life. "Write about it as if it's already happened," says Stone.
What would you do with the extra time? Many people have visions of travel and volunteering with causes they care about, but a surprising number these days are also envisioning some form of paid work -- either a part-time job in a new field they've always fantasized about (wine production, working in an independent book store), consulting occasionally in their previous fields, or starting their own businesses.
Whatever it is, try to be as specific as possible, because then, you can "start to work on what needs to be done to get to that ideal life five years from now," says Stone. The more alluring the image is, the stronger the pull will be.
"The ideal time to retire is when the unfinished business in your life begins to feel more important than the work you're doing," he says.