Is early retirement right for you?

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7 Steps to a Rewarding Early Retirement

When you think about early retirement, you might get a dreamy, faraway look in your eyes. Perhaps you envision time spent traveling while you're still young, or spending more time as a family because you're no longer working full time. Or maybe you're picturing walking away from a job you dislike and never dealing with a stressful deadline or boring meeting again.

Early retirement can be an escape from a bad work situation as well as an opportunity to spend time doing the things you truly want to be doing. However, the reality is that early retirement isn't for everyone. Early retirement is a difficult goal to achieve, and it may not be what makes you happy in the long run. Here are some of the pros and cons of early retirement:

SEE MORE: The High Costs of the Retirement Dream

More leisure time. A boost in leisure time earlier in your life is a major bonus of early retirement. You will have more years to enjoy retirement and to tackle all the projects you have wanted to try. You be able to invest in your family and relationships and spend more time with your children and grandchildren.

Less stress. Not working around the clock for an extra 10, 15 or 20 years can significantly reduce your levels of stress each day. You won't have to rush to get out of the house every morning and sit in traffic during the morning rush hour or be expected to work late or through the weekend. Now you don't have to work at all unless you want to.

Also see the average retirement age in every state:

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Average retirement age in every state
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Average retirement age in every state

Alabama - Age 62

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Alaska - Age 65

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Arizona - Age 63

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Arkansas - Age 62

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California - Age 64

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Colorado - Age 64

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Delaware - Age 62

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Connecticut - Age 64

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Florida - Age 63

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Georgia - Age 62

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Hawaii - Age 63

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Idaho - Age 63

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Illinois - Age 63

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Indiana - Age 63

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Iowa - Age 64

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Kansas - Age 65

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Kentucky - Age 62

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Louisiana - Age 63

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Maine - Age 64

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Maryland - Age 64

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Massachusetts - Age 64

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Michigan - Age 62

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Minnesota - Age 63

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Mississippi - Age 63

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Missouri - Age 63

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Montana - Age 63

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Nebraska - Age 65

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Nevada - Age 63

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New Hampshire - Age 65

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New Jersey - Age 65

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New Mexico - Age 63

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New York - Age 64

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North Carolina - Age 63

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North Dakota - Age 63

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Ohio - Age 63

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Oklahoma - Age 63

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Oregon - Age 63

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Pennsylvania - Age 63

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Rhode Island - Age 64

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South Carolina - Age 62

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South Dakota - Age 63

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Tennessee - Age 63

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Texas - Age 64

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Utah - Age 65

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Vermont - Age 65

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Virginia - Age 63

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Washington - Age 64

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West Virginia - Age 62

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Wisconsin - Age 63

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Wyoming - Age 65

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Finding health insurance. Early retirees often lose their employer-sponsored health insurance, but aren't yet old enough to sign up for Medicare. If you retire before you're eligible for government-funded health care at 65, you will need to find another source of health insurance that could cost much more.

Boredom. While relaxing is fun at the beginning of retirement, you might eventually want to find productive ways to fill your time. If you aren't proactive about setting up social events or volunteering, boredom could creep into your retirement years.

Early withdrawal penalties. It can be difficult to access the money you've saved for retirement if you retire early. If you withdraw money from your individual retirement account before age 59 ½ there is typically a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty. While there are a couple of ways around the penalty, not everyone qualifies. This steep penalty can quickly eat into your retirement savings and make it even more difficult to fund a long retirement.

SEE ALSO: 10 Jobs Hiring Older Workers

More years to pay for. When you retire early, your retirement savings needs to last longer. If you retire at 50, you may need to fund another 40 years of retirement using your nest egg. A significant amount of savings is often required to pay for several decades of retirement.

Consider a career change. If you're tired of your career and want a more laid-back and enjoyable lifestyle, consider a career change. If you make a switch to the right new career, you could gain many of the benefits of early retirement, such as a less stressful life and more time with family, without the drawbacks of early retirement. The key is to figure out how to use your current skill set to transition into a new career. Alternatively, you could launch a completely new career. You might be able to return to school and get new credentials while still working at your current job.

EXPLORE MORE: 10 Alternatives to Full-Time Retirement

Cut back your hours. There's no reason you have to go cold turkey from full-time work to full-time retirement. Instead, consider transitioning into retirement gradually. You can start slow by cutting back on your work hours and focusing less on moving up in your career. Another option is to shift to working part time by slowly cutting back your hours and adjusting your lifestyle accordingly. Phasing into retirement can also be a more financially savvy option than retiring early because you still have some money coming in which gives your savings more time to grow.

Copyright 2016 U.S. News & World Report

RELATED: The 10 best states to retire in 2016:

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Best states for retirement
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Best states for retirement

1. South Dakota

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2. Iowa

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3. Minnesota

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4. Alaska 

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5. Oregon 

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6. Colorado

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7. Hawaii 

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8. South Carolina

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9. Nebraska

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10. Wisconsin

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