Author: kris

This Retiree’s 11 Tips to Creating Your Next3rd You’ll Love

This Retiree’s 11 Tips to Creating Your Next3rd You’ll Love

She lost 60lbs, travelled to four continents, reconnected with family and friends, embarked on meaningful volunteering, and learned new activities in her next3rd, all from a remote northern community.  What are her secrets to living a retirement life with zest?  Read on…

 

Meet Margot

She’s a girl of the north with a big heart, big goals, good humour, and a love of the outdoors.  Her dedication to her career in education left little time for anything but her family.  Now?  Let’s just say her retirement is action packed!

“How is life?  I don’t think it can get much fuller!”

 

Margot started planning her retirement life right away. A “living” plan focusing on her first priorities; her health and fitness, travel, and reconnecting with family and friends.  She’s the one who inspired me to start a ‘60 Things to Do When I’m 60’ list!

“I’ve accomplished 90% of my list with 4 months to go! I’ve learned I can achieve almost any goal I set for myself.”

 

But There’s More…

Not only has Margot reached most of her goals, she has added meaning to life through volunteering.  She’s preparing a presentation on her trip to China for a senior’s group and helps her church in various capacities including singing in the choir. “Singing makes me happy!”   She was part of a group that brought a refugee family to their small community, helped them integrate, and continues to mentor/tutor the children successfully through school.

“It feels good to give back. I feel blessed to be able to help.”

 

How She Did It…

Here are Margot’s 11 tips to living the retirement life you’ve dreamed:

 

  1. Start Financial Planning at Least 10 Years Before Retiring

“You need to know clearly what your financial situation is.”

“For 5 years, we put our income tax refund into a separate ‘travel fund’.”

 

  1. Go to a Seminar about Retirement at Least 1 Year Before Retiring

Learn the steps you need to take to transition smoothly.

 

  1. Take Control of Your Health

Margot changed her sedentary working life to a vibrant active life when she retired.  Now she enjoys, biking, tennis, pickleball, snowshoeing and more.  She also joined a diabetes study as a preventative measure which enabled a healthier diet.  “I feel fitter, healthier and happier.”

 “Prioritize your health from here forward.”  

 

  1. Have a Financial Plan B

Sometimes the unexpected happens.  Margot has seen families struggle financially after a spouse dies younger than expected.

 

  1. Be Positive

Bad stuff happens.  Margot lost her Mum in her first year of retirement.  Yet, she feels blessed for having that year to spend special time with her.

“When you feel fit, healthy, grateful, and are giving back, you can stay positive.”

 

  1. Enjoy What’s Around You, Open Your Mind to New Things and New Fun

“Don’t be afraid to try new things.”  Margot tried rock-climbing, tennis, pickle ball and other active lessons.  She helped her hubby with hands-on reno projects and re-learned how to filet a fish.  (The pickerel up there is amazing!)  She even finished 2nd in her category in a 10km run!

 

  1. Respect That You and Your Partner Have Different Days

How you each spend your day can be different.  Margot’s hubby can clock 10,000 steps working outside, while Margot will go out for a spin.  You don’t have to be, or travel, together all the time.  “You have something to share at the end of the day or trip.”

“You need to have your own space when you retire.”

 

  1. Count on Yourself to Be Disciplined

“I am more disciplined just counting on myself.”  If you have specific goals, or daily practices, its up to you to get them done.  Be it a ride at 6am, or daily meditation, “count on yourself first and that means discipline”.

“If no-one else is around to do it with, I’ll do it anyway.”

 

  1. Plan to Renew Relationships

Margot’s loved ones are scattered across our vast country and she purposely visits or calls long-term friends and her fam jam frequently.  She travelled with various family members, and planned family reunions which strengthened those bonds.

“I feel blessed to re-connect with old friends and bring my family closer.”

 

  1. Make a List of Things to Do for a Milestone

She’s already working on her 65 Things to Do When She’s 65 “This worked really well for me.”  Include little things and big things.  The list mobilized her dreams and really did create a very full retirement.  Full of adventure, meaning, connection and fun!

“I love lists. I love checking things off. I love that my family and friends wanted to make my goals happen with me.”

 

  1. Count Your Blessings

Those are my words.  Margot said, “Be positive again”.  As we chatted, I heard her reflect on how blessed she felt, which in turn gave her a positive feeling. “People want to be around you when you’re positive.” In her first year of retirement, she wrote her top ten things for which she was grateful, daily.  Now she ‘counts her blessing’s each week.

“It helps you be more aware, and it gives you something positive to talk about.”

 

Thanks Margot, have fun working on the new list!

Care to share?

Retirement: This One Thing Will Make it Truly Fulfilling

Retirement: This One Thing Will Make it Truly Fulfilling

How do you manage the change from the fast-paced, highly scheduled, and task-oriented work life to what could be the opposite in retirement? What can you do to live a rewarding retirement life without the structure that guided your work life? Many retirees feel lost and even depressed as they struggle to re-orient themselves in life’s blank canvas called retirement. Here is one solution to help those feeling a little adrift.

 

Build Your Own Personal Retirement Life Plan

 

Not a financial plan, a life plan. Your own personal plan for retirement life. How? Allow me to steal some proven practices for my strategic planning days and show you how to turn your personal dreams into action. Don’t roll your eyes yet!

 

First, Start with Your Dream

 

Most of us dream about the freedom of retirement. Some want to travel, some to relax, and we all relish the day without an alarm clock. That’s a start. I’m sure there’s more. I’m talking about a personal vision. A good vision provides clarity of your direction, your life purpose and of what’s important to you. It guides you to living the life you’ve imagined.

 

Your personal vision is your compass in your life.

 

How do You Create a Personal Vision?

 

The key word is “create”. It’s a creative process in the part of the brain that is visual. Expect it to be a bit fuzzy at first, difficult to articulate with words. It may help to draw your vision. Imagine your ideal life in retirement – your personal Next3rd.

 

What is your picture of your dream life in retirement?

 

Reflect on the life you’d like to lead in retirement. Where are you? Who is with you? What leisure activities or hobbies might you enjoy? What are you learning? How are you investing in your health? How will you help others? What relationships will you nurture? How will you grow personally and be in tune with your spirituality? What’s important to you? What hints of your life’s purpose are emerging?

Jot down some ideas or draw a sketch. Leave it for a while and let your subconscious percolate. Finetune and repeat. Write it down! A paragraph or a page – whatever works for you. Write your vision as descriptively as you can so that you can ‘see’ it in your mind’s eye. It’s OK to be vague. Over time, you’ll gain more clarity. Just get started! Remember, this is personal, you don’t have to share it, but do read it regularly.

 

Stuck? Think about what excited you as a kid. That’s part of who you really are.

 

Second, Set Personal Goals to Reach your Dream

 

Yes, I sound like a strategic planner. Can’t help it. This stuff works!

While your vision may be a little fuzzy, your goals become more specific. Read your personal vision and think of timelines. Within your vision, what would you like to achieve in one year? Three years? Five years? What can you accomplish to move closer to your ideal life?

 

Write 3-5 goals per time frame. Any more and success is less likely.

 

Preferably, your goals are measurable. You can see how you are progressing and adjust along the way. My one-year goals included hiking the Inca Trail. Easy to measure – completed or not! Sometimes goals require adjusting as life surprises us. Finetune them as you need. After an injury, I adjusted my ‘active’ goals to reading and learning goals.

 

Personal goals give you something to work toward and keep you focused on what’s most important.

 

Third, Put the Pedal to the Metal

 

Time for action! Look at your one-year goals and determine what you intend to do in the next 3 months to help you reach your personal goals. I like to give my one year goal a theme to provide some focus for my activities.  It may be helpful to plan your actions at the change of each season. You are creating your own personal action plan to accomplish your goals.

 

Write 2-3 actions per goal to complete for the next 3 months/season and ‘tactics’ of how to complete them.

 

For my Inca Trail goal, I wanted to be in top physical shape and so my ‘tactic’ was to join a gym and hire a personal trainer. Check! Repeat this process of setting new intentions toward your annual goals every season. Watch how your life’s dream becomes clearer and closer to reality! You have something to look forward to in each season.

 

Seasonal action planning fires momentum toward your personal vision and brings focus and intention to your daily life!

 

Finally, Review, Reflect, Repeat!

 

Congratulations! You’ve developed your personal retirement life plan! Keep it alive and relevant by reviewing it frequently. I try to read mine every day and let it guide my weekly To Do list.  This truly helps me live an intentioned life. Reflect on your progress, goals and personal vision. What have you learned about yourself? Do you want to finetune anything?

 

As time goes on, your priorities may change, and that’s perfectly OK!

 

Repeat the process of annual goal-setting and seasonal action-planning and soon it will be a natural rhythm in your retirement life. A rhythm that gives you meaning, some structure, and direction. A fulfilling life is one where our actions and thoughts nourish and sustain our life’s dream!

 

“You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.” – C.S. Lewis

 

Care to share?

This World Champion’s Tips for a Happy Retirement, RV Style

This World Champion’s Tips for a Happy Retirement, RV Style

World champion dragon boater, RV aficionado, grandmother and free spirit, this semi-retiree is making big lifestyle changes as she embarks on her 7th decade.  With an open mind and new goals to pursue, the open road is calling.  Here are her tips on following your nomadic dreams in retirement.

 

A World Champion … at 69

Mona is rather mild-mannered given her international athletic feats, her adventurous spirit and the big change that is coming her way. It’s her dragon boat accomplishments that get my attention first.

“I just like to be active and I need a goal to work toward.” 

 

That’s a bit of an understatement. Truth?  She began dragon boating for fun about 15 years ago and loved it so much, she wanted to pursue the competitive field.  One problem.  Ottawa didn’t have a dragon boat club, a requirement to compete internationally.  So, Mona, in her 60’s, and a friend started a club. They created a senior C team too! Problem solved!

“We had to find enough people over 60 who where fit, interested and committed.”

 

Fundraising for coaching, early morning and evening practices, and dedicated training lead to gold, silver and bronze medals for her crew this summer at the world championships in Hungary!  “There’s nothing like winning the race!”

 

Big Changes on the Horizon

As much as Mona loves dragon boating, she is hanging up her paddle and on the lookout for a new challenge. “I’m ready for something else.” That’s not the big change though.  The BIG change is something, not everyone could do, but if you do, it can be very liberating.

She and her husband are selling the family home of 39 years.  Selling it and everything in it!  They have decided to buy a large recreational vehicle (RV) which will be their permanent home for the next year or two.  Her new challenge for the moment is emptying the house!  “I think its good for you to move.”

“We’ll be free! We never had trouble trying new things.”

 

No, this is not a rash decision.  They have enjoyed the RV life for a few years, spending half the year on the road.  They’ve made new friends, visited interesting places and kept active with sports and outdoor activities at the RV parks.  Mona still works casually, and can do so remotely from her RV.  They love the flexibility, freedom and the social RV community.

“Rving is a lot of fun, it’s a lifestyle.” 

 

Say What? RV Community?

If you think the RV life can be lonely, think again.  There’s a vibrant community out there of free-spirited people from all over North America.  They are a friendly, helpful bunch.  Mona and her hubby have found their preferred RV parks. Home base for part of the winter.  They take day trips and enjoy the numerous activities and social life available.

Fitness classes, swimming, yoga, pickleball, sewing, woodworking, bike club, hike club, dances, and of course happy hour are just a few examples of the fun, fellow travelers can enjoy.  “It’s very social.”  Mona has already set some goals for her next stay at the park.  I foresee a new pickleball competitor emerging!

“It’s good to meet different people.  We’ve made new friends, stay connected and look forward to seeing them in the winter.”

 

What About Old Friends and Family?

Skype and social media help them stay connected.  Mona and her hubby Skype their grandchild every week.  When they are in town, they make an effort to see old friends and they always come home for Christmas.  The reality is that friends are busy or also away.  You don’t see them as much when you are home anyway.”

“We won’t be doing this forever.  One day we will sell the RV and buy a small home somewhere on the water.”

 

The Secrets to a Happy RV Life?

“Be open-minded.” 

Everyday can bring a new adventure and new friends to meet.  You can hide away in your RV or go out and enjoy the new sights, activities and people around you.  The later brings more fun and new experiences.  Mona was thrilled to experience the largest rodeo in North America while in Texas, something completely different for her.

 

 “Know to how fix things.”

Troubleshoot really.  Things can break down.  An RV is a home on wheels complete with water systems, electrical, heating, etc.  Mona’s had an awning nearly blow off, and a towed car roll off its trailer on the TransCanada! “You need to be healthy enough to fix things. It can be physically demanding.”

 

“You have to like the lifestyle.”

Not sure its for you?  Mona suggests trying it out first. Some of the RV parks have trailers you can rent over the winter.  The type of park you are in makes a difference in terms of the demographics of fellow RVers. “We wanted to be with active people.”

 

“Give each other space.”

To follow their own interests that is.  One of you may want to see one thing, while your spouse may have another interest. Accommodate each other’s interests along the way.  Mona’s hubby swims, while Mona plays pickleball. Speaking of space. Worried about the small quarters?  “If you can live outside, the small space is fine.”

 

Words of Wisdom for a Happy Retirement

“Find what works for you.”

Retirement is a gradual transition out of some activities and the picking up new ones. “Your interests and stamina changes.”

 

“For couples, ensure you are both on the same page.”

When you start retirement, look at the pros and cons of key decisions such as buying an RV.  Each of you make up your own list to see if you are on the same page.  Compromise may be necessary!

 

“We’re very happy in retirement. We always find something to do. “

Care to share?

3 Retirement Lessons from the Inca Trail

3 Retirement Lessons from the Inca Trail

Built in the 1400’s and hidden from the Spanish, this 45km, 4-day trail through the stunning Peruvian mountains to the unforgettable Machu Picchu Inca ruins is a trip of a lifetime. It’s not easy, and it may not be for those expecting 5-star accommodations, but it does cause you to see things with a new lens. Especially when we face one of life’s biggest changes, retirement.

 

 

  1. You Can Do More Than You Think You Can

I wasn’t sure I was up to it.  Hiking in high altitude, from dawn to dusk, for 4 days, sleeping in tents and no showers! Three mountain passes, the highest, aptly named Dead Woman’s Pass, is 4,215m high. I’ve never been that high, and my body is, you know… ageing.  Old sports injuries are ever present along with other aches and pains, and you just didn’t know how you’d react to the very high altitude.  Could I keep up?

But, I had a list.  60 Things to Do Before I Turn 60.  Hike the Inca Trail was the BIG stretch goal.  Time to put my dream to action.  Enter Jocelyn, my energetic, tough, but encouraging physical trainer.  She helped me overcome injuries, strengthen the bod, and build up my cardio capacity.  More importantly, she helped my mindset.

“You’re not old. You can do this!  Age is just a number.”

 

She would remind me, when I would doubt injury recovery, and question my ability to do this trek.  She was right!  Going to the gym, raised my confidence level, but the big test was on the mountain.  I was the oldest of our group and I could keep up!   I did it!  Completing this trek, helped me realize I can do more!

I will never forget that exhilarating feeling of reaching the top of Dead Woman’s Pass and ‘whooping’ as loud as I could over the Andes mountains! 

 

 

  1. The Right Tribe is Uplifting

“We are a family”, Rudy, our outstanding trek guide told our group of nine people, aged 22 to almost 60, and of various backgrounds and nationalities.   “We stick together and remember, PMA – positive mental attitude.”  That was our mantra for the four days of personal challenge for all of us. It worked. No need for competition, no race to the top. No one left behind.

We started out as strangers with different reasons for doing the trek, and we ended as a ‘family’ with a special bond after sharing a remarkable experience together.  We supported and encouraged each other through altitude sickness, travellers’ bellies, sore knees, the cold nights and a cold.  Snacks, meds and other remedies were shared (thankfully one trekker was a nurse) along with the local wisdom of our guide.   We enjoyed coca tea happy hour and Peruvian meals together in the dining tent, along with laughs, stories and a collective awe of where we were!

We made it to the beautiful wonder of the world, Machu Picchu, together, each of us uplifted and happy for each other!

 

 

  1. Travel is Sooooo Good For You

Especially in our next 3rd stage of life.  It causes us to be adaptable, open and curious. It puts our minds to work, researching sites, planning itineraries, or understanding different languages and protocols.  It can also test our stress resilience!

We learned so much on our trek through the Andes, while our comfort levels were tested. I was amazed at the marvels of Inca architecture and engineering on steep mountain slopes. We were introduced to the local culture, history and customs thanks to our valuable Andean guide and the local village people. Praying to the Sun and Mother Earth for good karma on our trek, eating alpaca and guinea pig, and of course sipping Pisco Sour, the tasty national cocktail.

Yet, we had to forgo our first world comfort and even sanitation expectations. (Always carry your own TP and hand sanitizer!)  Things we take for granted, like a seated toilet, were luxuries, but the magnificent mountain views, the Inca ruins, the starry night skies and the friendly people were definitely worth it!

The beauty of the place and the Inca civilization reminded me of how truly amazing this planet is.  I’m inspired to see more!

 

Remember this When Pondering Retirement

Check your attitudes to ageing, retirement and your ability.  You CAN do it!

Nurture tribes that uplift you.  Choose PMA people!

Travel – not just in a comfy way, but out of your comfort zone.  Let the world amaze you!

Care to share?

6 Essentials to a Healthy Relationship, for a Happy Retirement

6 Essentials to a Healthy Relationship, for a Happy Retirement

Feeling connected to others is vital to a happy retirement, and some studies suggest, to longer life. But, retirement brings changes and some of the biggest are in the dynamics of our relationships. Perhaps its time for a refresher on what makes a relationship healthy!

 

“A healthy relationship makes for a healthy retirement; an OK relationship makes for an OK retirement; while a chronically sick relationship, makes for a disaster.”  Dr. Richard P. Johnson

 

 

What is Connectedness?

It’s our ability to share ourselves at a deeper level with our spouse, special friend or confidante.  It is a key factor for retirement success.  When we share our time, talents, possessions, our emotions, joy, fear, hopes, dreams, desires, and mistakes, we share our spirit.  Think about those times when someone really listened to you, understood you.  How did you feel?  Connected?

 

A good relationship sparks our spirit; a poor relationship douses it.

 

 

Remove the Armour

Unfortunately, aloneness can creep into our retirement years. Loss of loved ones, and the changing lifestyles of friends and family may weaken close ties. We may try to protect ourselves from loneliness and don our armour. In the end, we isolate ourselves further and in so doing, quash our own spirit.  We just might become that grumpy old person people want to avoid!

 

“Reclusiveness is the opposite of connectedness. It constricts our souls, strangles our life energy and cuts us away from the vitality of living.” Dr. Johnson

 

 

The Six Conditions

Of a healthy relationship according to Dr. Johnson, expert on adult development, ageing and retirement, are:

 

  1. Mutuality

Each partner feels their needs are valued equally and they share a common purpose.  Inter-dependence rather than independence or dependence is key. They have a balanced union, not one of dominance or resignation. They can count on each other and they honour their relationship.

“The opposite of mutuality is self-centeredness.”

 

  1. Respect

Each partner recognizes, honours and cherishes the special uniqueness of the other… even after time has worn off some of the new excitement.  It’s not about tolerating the differences but recognizing them as part of the unique gifts of your partner.

“The opposite of respect is resentment.”

 

  1. Communication

Communicating in a caring compassionate way can help partners navigate the inevitable differences that emerge over time. Active listening, attending to feelings, speaking for yourself, not others, and encouraging each other to speak freely are some elements of meaningful interaction.

“The opposite of communication is criticism.”

 

  1. Intimacy

A strong and positive emotional bond brings intimacy.  A bond that yields affection, attachment and devotion. That’s intimacy.  When your partner can understand your feelings and vice versa. “Relationships that deal in the currency of feelings are relationships of richness and happiness.”

“The opposite of intimacy is emotional estrangement.”

 

  1. Trust

You can rely upon each other without question and genuinely accept the other.  Each partner encourages, supports and accepts the other’s journey of personal development.  It is not about submissiveness or resignation, but of clarity of what really is. Trust involves acceptance of others and of what is.

“The opposite of trust is doubt.”

 

  1. Commitment

Each partner practices perseverance, persistence and steadfastness so that fidelity and staying power builds over a lifetime. Partners have the courage to unwaveringly grow and strengthen their relationship when others may have lost hope.

“The opposite of commitment is indifference.”

 

Whew!  As I write this, I realize how easy it is to get lazy in a relationship. Now I’m inspired to rekindle the connection and I hope you are too!  For more inspiration, check out this post about Karl and Denise, a couple that embodies these six essentials.  In Dr. Johnson’s words…

 

“If you have a confidante, take very good care of that person; they are your mental wellness.”

 

Care to share?

Retire at 52? How This Retiree Did It Successfully

Retire at 52? How This Retiree Did It Successfully

Retire early or keep working?  How do you make the decision?  This happy retiree weighed both options early, and at key milestones during his 35-year career before making the plunge.  Here’s how he did it.

 

A Man with a Plan

I was struck by Bernard’s positive energy while working on a project with a volunteer board he leads.  He seemed to really enjoy retirement life, full of zest.  I was curious.  What was his story?

Bernard knew what he wanted to do with his life at age 17.  Join the military and make a full career of it.  Even at that young age, Bernard had a plan with retirement in it already.  How many 17-year-olds do that? He planned on a 35-year military career from day one. Knowing he would be young when retirement came along, he needed a careful approach to his finances. He didn’t want to rely solely on his military pension, and so started his RSP soon after he donned his air force uniform.

 “I started to plan financially for retirement early and knew I had to prepare carefully.”

 

Milestone Check and Retirement Journal

Fast forward 20 years.  Bernard asked himself, “what do I really want to do when I retire?”   He saw two paths.   “Retire fully or prepare myself to continue working.” He would jot ideas down as they came to him and regularly check his list over time. He was looking 15 years ahead, and he was looking at retiring to something, not from something.  That’s foresight!

“I knew I didn’t want to spend the day watching TV.  I wanted to be able to do things.” 

 

Contingency Plan

Bernard’s first choice was to fully retire after what became a rewarding and interesting career as an aerospace engineering officer.  But, he wasn’t sure this was wholly possible.  He went back to college and studied human resources management, to expand his civilian career options just in case.  “I diversified myself.”  He felt better prepared for both retire or work eventualities.

“My back-up plan had 3 purposes; one, build a financial buffer, two, have something to do if I was bored and three, give me options if I really liked the work.”

 

The True Retirement Picture Came Later

Bernard’s ideal retirement life started to crystallize four years before retirement.  The ideas in his retirement journal changed and evolved as he matured, and as his family dynamics changed.  “We have to accept that our plans might change.  Be open to change and new ideas.”

“At my 20-year milestone, I wanted to golf in retirement.  Now, golf is not even on my radar.”

 

His retirement canvas? “Really enjoy life. Take life to the fullest.”  That meant, retire fully, volunteer, travel, sports, and enjoy the great outdoors.

“I knew I wouldn’t be traveling or skiing everyday and wanted to do something in between.” 

 

Life of the Youngish Retiree

“Life is great now!” It took Bernard about 6 months to realize he was really retired.  It felt like a vacation at first. He still had some doubts but, in the end, his decision to retire youngish felt very rewarding.

“I was still nervous.  I wore a uniform for 35 years.  And one day I wouldn’t.  That’s a bit scary.  The military is like a huge family, your crutch.”

 

Having a plan helped ease Bernard’s doubts knowing he had already thought about things. Four years after retirement, he wouldn’t change anything.  The only surprise was how busy one can be in retirement. “You have to pace yourself.” He also realized the simple things in life bring happiness.  “Helping neighbours and just being friendly each day.”

“You need a lot less than you think. Life can be much simpler – take the time to enjoy it.”

 

He lives in a village outside Ottawa where he can walk into town.  He and his wife, who retires soon, share one car. (He has a sweet motorcycle for fair weather fun.)  He curls, treks in the alps with his military buddies, hikes with his wife and really is enjoying life. Volunteering for a museum and for a stewardship association gives him a sense of contribution to his community, new social circles and added meaning to his life. “Life is much better actually.”

 

Words of Wisdom

Bernard offers 3 tips:

  1. Early planning is truly important. Write it down, regularly review, and change as needed.   Don’t be afraid to admit to yourself that your retirement dreams are changing.

 

  1. Don’t underestimate your skills and experience – especially military colleagues. You might be surprised how well your skills are transferable.

 

  1. Have the support of your spouse. This is most critical. Retiring early is a team decision and affects your spouse and family.

 

Thanks Bernard!

Care to share?

How Your Money Attitude Can Make or Break Your Retirement

How Your Money Attitude Can Make or Break Your Retirement

It is the strangest feeling. The realization that after decades of career, business and thus wealth growth, the reverse begins.  At least from the financial perspective.  The day you start drawing from your ‘nest egg’ instead of adding to it.  It’s unnerving. How do you make this transition without being totally stressed about your finances?  How do you cope with the unknown variables that can impact your retirement finances such as health issues, how long you’ll live and stock market volatility?


Mind Over Matter?

“You’re going to be OK” we are told by our financial advisor.  But it doesn’t sink in.  The numbers are run, different scenarios explored, assumptions manipulated.  Graphs are shown on the big screen.  Sums are written on the white board.  We still don’t believe it.  Three days prior, early retirement was handed to my hubby without choice.  We were still in shock over the sudden drop in household income.  We were in the scarcity mindset.

And therein lies the problem. Your belief system.  What is your attitude toward money?  A scarce resource? A taboo topic?  What did you learn about money from your parents?  We believed that our retirement funds to which we’ve contributed for 30 years were untouchable.  A finite, scarce resource for later in life, not now.  We believed we didn’t have enough, that we had to add more, not withdraw. The stress kept us awake at night.

Financial security is part peace of mind, part understanding of your financial position and part capability to meet your financial needs.

 

Part 2 and 3

Of financial security can be addressed with a good financial plan – understanding your financial position and determining how to meet your financial needs.  Having a solid plan and understanding its underlying assumptions gives you something real to work with. Knowledge is power. Find a qualified, competent and reputable financial advisor to help you develop financial security.  Nancy Graham of PWL Capital gives you tips on what to ask a prospective advisor in this video.

“The whole point of financial planning is so you won’t be worrying every day about your finances.”  Dr. Richard Johnson

 

How Much is Enough?

Is the number 1 google search topic on retirement.  The answer, my friend, may be in your hands.  Your financial plan is dependent on your retirement life plan.  Take the time to reflect on how you want to live your ‘next3rd’.  Consider hobbies, leisure, residence, health, personal development, travel, family and social activities, volunteerism, work and philanthropy. Separate wants from needs.  Tally it up, map it out and share it with your financial advisor.  Expect to make adjustments.

“If your outgo exceeds your income, your upkeep will be your downfall.” – wise taxi driver

 

Know that You Have Options

No question, having sufficient finances to carry you through retirement is critical to a successful, happy and fulfilling ‘next third’. Financial security is a retirement success factor. While, we won’t really know what our future will bring, we can ease our anxiety and thus enjoy life’s third act by knowing that we could supplement our retirement income if needed.

44% of first retirees continue to work in some fashion, not necessarily for the funds but to remain active – Retirement Options

 

P-Y, shares tips on how he developed a thriving consulting gig in retirement in this post. Denise who shared her retirement wisdom in this post, took on a few “jobettes” when she first retired, including teaching sommelier classes.  Dave, a former engineer became a triathlon coach and Marlene left her project management career to become a people whisperer. Yep, a people whisperer using horses.  My recent Uber driver was a retiree with a clean, new car who liked meeting different people.

Retirement gives you the opportunity to do work you’ve wanted to do on your terms.

 

Be Mindful, Be Informed

When that anxiety feeling about money seeps in, check your thoughts at the door.  Reflect on your attitudes to money and how well these are serving you.  Replace your worries with solid information – your financial plan, and your realistic budget.  Take a breath, knowing that you have interesting choices in retirement. Om!

Care to share?

How This Career-Focused Woman Found Purpose in Retirement

How This Career-Focused Woman Found Purpose in Retirement

She is a trailblazer figuratively and literally.  Fully engaged in her career and one of few women at the senior level of her industry, she made a choice that unknowingly changed her way of life.  How did she manage to switch from an intense, but fulfilling career to a relaxed and rewarding retirement?

 

Janet 3.0

Janet is an engineering classmate of mine.  Intelligent, driven, and, as with many women engineers of our vintage, a trailblazer in her career.  She loved her work, and as she rose through the ranks to the executive level, her career became all-consuming.  She didn’t mind.  When she declined an offer to move, her first career, Janet 1.0, ended at age 50.

Version 2 of Janet emerged six months later. She took the time to reflect, sought out the help of a career councilor, and despite several opportunities for more full-time work, decided she wanted to do something different and on her own terms.   Consulting, a dog and the beginnings of her volunteer contribution ensued.

“Don’t leap in too quickly.  Take the time to reflect about your interests and goals.”

 

Her new-found freedom and flexibility gave her opportunities to build new tribes.  She sought out volunteer organizations that aligned with her interests and offered to help.  All she knew is that she wanted to do something for the environment.  One opportunity, led to another and soon, Janet had a whole new network of interesting, engaged people.  “I went from a tribe of geeky male engineers to a tribe of geeky citizen naturalists” she says with a chuckle.

“You can’t sit at home and wait for an opportunity to come to you.  You have to make yourself available to the possible.”

 

Enter Janet 3.0.  Over time she was invited, nominated, and/or recommended to fill various volunteer roles, usually in a leadership capacity. “I have created almost full-time work for myself, just not paid.”  As she gained experience in the volunteer world, her purpose crystallized.  Janet’s mission is to protect and improve the green-space around Ottawa. She applies her skills, sometimes her own finances, engages her network and remains open to new opportunities to fulfill her purpose … with success!  “It’s very rewarding.”

“I hate the word retirement.  I see it as version 3 –  another life phase of action.”

 

Navigating the Volunteer World

Janet offers good advice when it comes to getting involved as a volunteer.  “The best place to start is with a group in an area that you are interested in”.  Offer to help. It could be as simple as manning a desk or clearing a trail. Even better, if you have skills the organization needs.  Janet could offer project management and leadership experience.  Try out the organization and give it some time. If its not quite right, try another one.  Diversify. “Have 2 or 3 irons in the fire.”

“First you are an outsider, and then you are gradually accepted into a new network of people. The more people you meet, the more useful, knowledgeable, and effective you become.”

 

Volunteer organizations are different than work, Janet reminds us. There is no hierarchy, no boss.  People are there by choice and interest and have different skills and opinions.  It requires a different way to draw upon people’s skills and passions than in the workplace. Volunteer leadership is more like people coordination. “I ended up in leadership positions in almost everything. That’s just me.”

 

Get to Know Your Councillor

If you’d like to get involved with your community, it will likely have a community association and that is a key link to your municipal Councillor. A volunteer project is likely to have better success with the support of your Councillor. A Councillor can open doors to more tribes too.

“Having your Councillor know who you are and know that you are a contributor to the community is helpful.  They can recommend you or nominate you for various organizations.”

 

Be Open

Janet’s retirement (even though she hates that term) is more than she imagined.  Her involvement with various stewardship and community organizations brought new opportunities, expanded her social circles and helped forge a new purpose. She didn’t plan to be chair of this organization or citizen rep of that, but she was open to the opportunities. She’s making a difference.

“You have to put yourself out there, be open and flexible and seize opportunities as they present themselves.”

 

Words of Wisdom

Have kind of an idea of where you want to go or be, in the sense of being.  What is your goal?  Then, open yourself up to a whole bunch of possibilities by putting yourself out there.  Everybody chooses a different way.”

Care to share?

Retirees: Are You Unknowingly Accepting an Ageist Bias?

Retirees: Are You Unknowingly Accepting an Ageist Bias?

You aren’t really over the hill, are you?  Do you believe your best years are behind you?  Are you holding back from doing things you love because of fear or worry?  It’s easy to do, given our culture’s tendency to value youth and dismiss retirement as a “less than” life.  Here’s how to change that lens.

 

What’s More Valuable, Your Younger You or You Today?

That’s a loaded question.  And the crux of society’s ageist bias.  Sure, your younger body might have been able to do more, faster and that was great for that time.  Now, you are wiser, and your unique individuality is shining through.  Perfect for this time.  Want to be happy in retirement?  Stop comparing you today to your younger you.  Just stop – you’re comparing apples to oranges.  Start recognizing that now is the best time of your life!

“Age is perhaps the most inaccurate measure of personal identity, capabilities, intelligence, pace and stamina.”  Dr. Richard Johnson

 

Luster or Lack-luster?

Listen to yourself.  Are you complaining about your aches and pains and how difficult things are?  Are you reminiscing of your good old days… a lot?  Are you worried about tomorrow and what might happen?  Have you turned into a know-it-all cynic?  Or, are you excited about your hobby, committed to a special project, exhilarated by reaching new goals?  The difference is luster.

Yes, you’ve still got it baby!  That zest and vitality comes from being fully engaged in life today. Optimism, enthusiasm, humour, adaptability, balance and your uniqueness are elements that give you luster.  Being content in your life right now, is one of 15 success factors for a happy retirement identified by Dr. Johnson, expert on retirement and adult development.  (He calls it “current life stage satisfaction”.)  Check out this post on 7 habits to happiness, or this one on how to find your new purpose to shine up your luster.

“Don’t ever lose your luster!” Earl Nightingale

 

Live Fully in the Now

You’ve heard this, probably many times, but it can be hard to do.  It takes practice for some of us, and we must continually remind ourselves to be fully present in life right now. We can’t change the past and we can’t predict the future, but we can seize today.

“Yesterday is a cancelled cheque, tomorrow is promised to no-one.  All we really have is right now.”   Dr. Wayne Dyer

 

Retirement can bring you so many possibilities if you are open to them. It is a time for personal development, and taking on new learning, hobbies or leisure activities.  It’s a time to reflect on and live your life’s purpose and truly savour meaningful relationships.  Best of all, it’s a time to honour your uniqueness and spark your sizzle!   It really can be the best time of your life!

Care to share?

Retirement: How You Perceive Your Health Makes a Difference

Retirement: How You Perceive Your Health Makes a Difference

Vitality. Most of us want it, especially in retirement. Yet, nearly 70% of Canadians over 60 have at least one chronic condition that may hamper this desire to live a life full of zest. Arthritis, high blood pressure and back problems might put a hold on your retirement dreams. Or not.  It depends on how you look at it.

 

That Mind-Body Thing

What you tell yourself, your body listens.  Keep telling yourself that you are old and decrepit, and you behave accordingly.  Your body will likely oblige as well.  Although, healthy maturing adults have just as good an immune system as people half their age, research has show that our attitudes about our health and life impact how well we fend off disease and discomfort.

It’s that PMA thing again.  Having a Positive Mental Attitude (covered in this happiness post) can help make the difference in creating a retirement life of vitality.  In fact, our general attitude to retirement may need a re-set as shared in this post.  The body is a marvel.  Do you focus on everything that’s wrong with it, or what an amazing machine it is?

 “How old would you be if you didn’t know your age?” Satchel Page

 

5 Ways to Deal with the Cards We’re Dealt

Having a mature and positive approach to wellness is one of the 15 retirement success factors, determined by Dr. Richard Johnson, founder of Retirement Options.  He shares one study that identifies 5 different approaches people in retirement take regarding their health:

  1. Mature: We take responsibility for our health and wellness, make necessary changes, and develop and carry out options to maintain good health.
  2. Rocking chair: We are passive about our wellness, and only act when forced to do so.
  3. Armoured: We are rather obsessed with our health, constantly on the lookout for something wrong and may over-do exercise, dieting and other health practices.
  4. Depressed: We may either neglect our health and wellness or become somewhat of a hypochondriac when we are feeling very low
  5. Angry: We shun professional health care and take on the full burden ourselves, rather than in partnership with the professionals

 

How you respond to your health in retirement impacts your retirement vitality.

 

You Just Might Be Surprised by What You Can Do!

Our goal, of course, is the mature response where we take responsibility and action to improve and manage our health in partnership with health care professionals. I am reminded of Gary, who I interviewed for this post and who shared his attitude and (mature) approach to being diagnosed with cancer in retirement. Inspiring.

Perhaps a visit to a physical therapist will arm you with new exercises to manage an old injury.  Working with a qualified personal trainer to build your functional fitness may open new possibilities for you.  A modification to your diet and sleep habits may also add life to your years. Mindfulness and nurturing your social circles can bring you joy.  Make the most of what you’ve got.  Its in your hands!

Want to really be inspired?  Olga competed and won many medals in World Masters track and field in her 90’s. Her story is shared in the book “What Makes Olga Run” by Bruce Grierson which examines her lifestyle, attitude and biology for secrets to her good health and longevity.  Listen to her wise words in this short video clip.

“I am an optimist and I take the most hopeful view of matters.” Olga Kotelko

 

Care to share?