Tag: happy retirement

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!

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Retirement: One Trait Needed to Live the Life You Dreamed

Retirement: One Trait Needed to Live the Life You Dreamed

There is one trait you will want to embrace that will make the difference between a listless retirement and one that fulfills you.  It’s a skill you likely practiced daily in your work career, but may have lost the opportunity to do so in retirement.  It marks the difference between the ‘old’ retirement – that of the rocking chair life, and the new retirement which is as unique as you.

 

 Lost Opportunity

At work we had the opportunity in some way to take charge of our tasks, our schedule, our day to varying degrees.  How you formulate your presentations, how you finesse your sales pitch, or how you solve the problem of the day. You find a way to apply your uniqueness in carrying out your role at work.

In retirement, we lose the opportunity, not the skill, to direct activities our way.  We may no longer have important problems to solve or people to collaborate with.  We lose the opportunity to organize how we work and what we do in a meaningful way. We may feel a little lost, inferior and directionless.

“If you take away one’s ability to make decisions, you take away their life force.”  Dr. Richard Richardson

 

You’re at Risk if…

You are used to other people planning your activities.  We all need some degree of order and organization in our lives.  Some of us let others decide for us and we follow along. Our social agenda, household budget, and leisure time are just some items that can be organized by others. We may amble through life without expressing our own uniqueness.

We run the risk of living a life designed by someone else.

 

 The Trait that Makes the Difference

 Want more from your retirement?  A good dose of ‘self-directedness’ is the cure.  Yes, that ability to map your own direction, purpose and attitudes. Self-directedness is one of the 15 retirement success factors determined by Dr. Johnson’s research, founder of Retirement Options.

Be the captain of your own ship on your journey of personal growth. 

 

Yes, that means taking charge of your retirement.  Don’t just sit back in that rocking chair and let it happen.   Get up and make the choices that fulfill you … and act on them!  It’s about designing your own, unique retirement plan and/or one that suits both you and your partner.  Reflect on how you will find a new purpose in life (learn how in this post).  What personal growth do you want to explore?  What hobbies and leisure activities peak your interest?  What will bring you life satisfaction?  It’s your life, plan it your way!

 

One Word of Caution

A little bit of flexibility goes a long way.  Let’s not be so focused on our own goals that we bull-doze over our partner’s or love ones’.  We don’t want to be that stubborn old person, who says “my way or the highway”!  Right?

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How One Woman Made BIG Changes for a Happy Retirement

How One Woman Made BIG Changes for a Happy Retirement

She ended her marriage, moved to a farm, and launched a new business all triggered by early retirement.  Why?  To follow her life-long dream.  Now, she can’t stop smiling.  Here’s her story…

 

Now’s the Time

Marlene is an intelligent, authentic, and intuitive person.  You get the sense that she knows more about you than you do.  She knows herself too.  When the option of early retirement came, this professional project manager, knew exactly what she wanted to do.

Marlene Armstrong grew up with horses and her bond with these beautiful animals never left her.  It was time to answer her equine passion.  It was time to live on a farm with her own horses around her.

 

Be True to Your Dream

Just one problem.  Her husband didn’t agree.  After much soul-searching, Marlene faced a few truths about her life and her marital relationship.  She realized she couldn’t sacrifice her dream and made the brave decision to part ways with her husband of 36 years and father of their two daughters.

“It was kind of an amicable split”, although there were some “nasties” in the division of assets. The separation meant that Marlene had to rely solely on her own funds to finance her dream.  She had a good pension, could do contract project management work, and knew she’d launch a business involving horses.

 

Just Do It

And that’s what she did.  She studied equine science, bought a farm, built a riding arena and brought her horses home.  Her daughters, also avid riders, joined her.  Soon, people were knocking on her door wanting to board their horses at Foxview Stables.   But, that’s not the business she wanted to run.

Her eldest daughter, trained in equine management, runs the stables.  Her second daughter, studying for her veterinary doctorate, also helps.   Marlene was inspired by another idea.

 

Hone Your Calling

A casual conversation with a friend led Marlene to a business partnership, intense specialized training, and a very special coaching practice called Unbridled Coaching.

“People Whisperers” is the tagline.  Yes, life coaching using horses.  Horses, I learned, will only trust you when you are authentic and transparent. They mirror you. That’s about the best place to be in life coaching I figure!

It was during the specialized Equus coach training, when Marlene realized that this was what she was meant to do.  So did her renown trainers.  She passed with flying colours, and hasn’t looked back.

 “I’m in my happy place.”

 

Lessons Learned

“Be financially prudent.” Initial investments were high for Marlene especially since she was no longer part of a dual income.  Managing the financial aspect of investing and building her dream meant being adaptable to different income sources.

“Stay focused on your dream.”  It’s easy to let distractions get in the way and to take you off course.  When you’re focused on what you want, you can achieve it.

“Your body and heart never lie.  But, your mind tells you all sorts of stories.”  If you really pay attention, your body will tell you whether you’re on the right path.  Take the time to pay attention to your body.

Marlene’s only regret?

“I wish I had done this 10 years earlier.”

 

In Her Words

“Just do it and do it now.  Follow your heart, even if you’re scared out of your mind.”

 

Marlene Armstrong, Equus Coach

Unbridled Coaching

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