Tag: early 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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This Active Retiree Shares His 3 Keys to Retirement Success

This Active Retiree Shares His 3 Keys to Retirement Success

Imagine you are in the peak of your career, in the top pack, and with a change of the head honcho, you are suddenly packing your personal things and bringing them home to stay. ‘Retired’ at age 53 was not in this ambitious guy’s game plan, yet he discovered whole new possibilities and is living a rich and fulfilling retirement life.  What’s his secret?  Read on!


A Guy You Can Count On

I first met Pierre-Yves, known as P-Y, at a community meeting over three years ago. He was the first person to volunteer when I asked for help on a community project, and he is still dependably committed to the project.  He’s that type of guy. You can count on him. Disciplined. I guess that’s what 33 years of RCMP life will do to you.

He’s the president of his neighbourhood association, captain of his tennis roster, plays hockey in his son’s league, goes to the gym regularly, volunteers in an entrepreneurial  behaviour intervention youth program, calls his 91-year-old Mum every morning, convenes large family gatherings AND has a thriving consulting business.  Not to mention, he also earned a master’s degree in retirement.

 “People tend to sell themselves short once they retire.”


Health First

Some people play hockey to stay in shape, P-Y stays in shape so he can play hockey, ski with his grandkids and do all the other things he loves. Taking care of your health is the first key to a successful retirement for P-Y.  Staying fit and maintaining a good energy level were a priority for P-Y throughout his career and still are now.  He scheduled gym time in his busy first career and continues in his retirement.

“Once you leave work, the most important asset you have is your health, and the second is your network.”


The Perfect Segue

Key number 2. Build your network. P-Y likes meeting new people and learning new things.  He has grown his network both purposely and serendipitously.  One consulting project led to another, which led to collaboration with academics at an international level, which broadened his circle, and now he’s the go-to-guy on public safety topics for top-tier journalists. His world changed from one of structure and hierarchy to one full of possibilities beyond his imagination.  How?  He nurtured and expanded his network.

“Your network can translate into a lot of growth in your second career. Even now, after 10 years, it’s still paying off.” 


It’s more than having lunch with your past work buddies. P-Y invests time and money to attend relevant conferences, nationally and internationally. “The more opportunity to meet people, the more opportunity you have.” He seeks out face time with new leaders in his field and keeps abreast of the current issues facing his potential clients. Which leads us to his third key.


Maintain Your Relevancy

This is the antidote to the old notion of retirement where you retreat from life. “Relevancy is healthy for retirement.”  Finding and being open to opportunities to contribute, being relevant, is the common denominator for P-Y in retirement.  Not only for his clients, but also for his community, family, relationships and future generations.  Hence his community involvement, daily Mum calls, family gatherings, youth mentorship and continued learning.

“I will never actually retire, I will always look for opportunities to grow personally and to help the community.  It’s been fun so far.”


P-Y has seen colleagues walk aimlessly through retirement and believes that the earlier you plan your retirement lifestyle the more fulfilling it will be.  “Relevancy is the key and you need to have the tools in the toolbox to keep this relevancy alive.”  Relevancy brings connectivity, something that can be easily lost in retirement. To me, P-Y is a good example for ‘self-directedness”, an important retirement trait shared in my last post.


Words of Wisdom


 “Remain relevant and have the physical and mental means to do so.  In all aspects of your life.”


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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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Early Retirement: A Success Story

Early Retirement: A Success Story

What’s it like to leave a high level professional career in your early 50’s and take the leap to engage your passion?  Meet Dave Harding, formerly a partner in an engineering consulting firm and now?  A very fit triathlete coach.  Here’s his story…

Start with Passion

Dave has a quiet demeanor, and is one, I get the impression, who thinks things through. He tells me that as a triathlete, you spend a lot of training time alone with your thoughts.  He uses this time to listen to his body for feedback, and I think, he also listens to his soul.

Dave’s passion is competitive athletics, something he has done nearly all his life. He first dipped his toe into marathon and triathlon coaching while still fully employed.  That’s when he realized coaching was what he really wanted to do.  He decided to pursue this passion more purposefully and began to act on his dream.  (How could one be more purposeful than completing several Ironman competitions?)

Prepare Perform Achieve

That’s Dave’s motto and that’s how he made his transition from fully employed to a fulfilling early retirement.   Over three years and while still employed, he took night courses to become certified and build his credibility in Fitness and Lifestyle Management, as a Personal Trainer, and as a Triathlon Coach.

He assessed his financial position in partnership with his wife to determine feasibility and timing for his early retirement. She’s still fully employed and the kids are launched which helped ease the transition.  He planned a phased changeover.  Dave moved from full-time employment to part-time contract work with the same company.  He carried out the contract work for a year before ‘stopping cold turkey’. That year gave him time to build his coaching business with less financial strain.

Dave enjoys the flexibility of his schedule now and the ability to have more time for his own training. (That’s 15 hours a week of training, yikes!)  The phased retirement approach gave him financial security to grow his coaching business and ease into his new lifestyle.  His coaching business keeps him engaged, allows him to apply his skills and talents to help others and propels him to chart growth both personally and for his business.

Lessons Learned

“Conceptually, have a plan of where you want to go.” It will be up to you to determine what’s next advises Dave.  It won’t be handed to you when you do fully retire.  It’s much better being pulled to something new, than being pushed out the door.  When you begin to feel less engaged in your work and secure in your finances, find what you really want to do and go after it.

“The social aspect is a bit of a shock.”   Moving from an office setting to working on your own can mean the loss of social connections. Ensure you maintain and create a social outlet that you enjoy.  It may mean developing new social circles and sticking to a schedule that gets you out meeting people.  Otherwise, you may end up wasting a lot of time alone at home.

My take-away from our conversation?  It’s up to you to live the life you want – especially in retirement. Plan for it and just do it!  Thanks Dave for sharing your story and inspiring us.  Must admit, I’m now a bit more curious about the triathlon scene especially since Dave mentioned he has clients over 60!

In Dave’s Words

“Find what you really want to do in life and pursue that the best you can do.”

Dave Harding, DEKK Coaching, Ironman Triathlete


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