Most people plan the financial aspect of their retirement but they don't plan what they are going to do for the next 30 years. Rick Trow, an oil and gas industry man who retired seven years ago, says he and his wife planned their retirement for several years. They had the benefit of a formal two-day retirement planning course that his company provided when they were still in their 40s. “The biggest thing I learned from the retirement course was that it was very important that you have plenty of things that you like to spend non-work hours on. You needed to have current hobbies.”
Experts agree that people who plan their retirement are more likely to enjoy a successful retirement. Here's how: Barry LaValley, founder of The Retirement Lifestyle Centre says the most successful retirees recognize that retirement is a transition into a new life. “They keep structure in their lives and they create balance between meaningful and leisure activities,” he says. Successful retirees focus on life issues and then build their investment and financial planning strategies around them; they find ways to stay active and balance their opportunities, and they take the things in life that were important parts of their working lives and ensure that they keep those parts in their retirement, says LaValley.
Less successful retirees usually experience “spinning wheels,” which includes excess spending on vacations and toys. They overlook the role that work plays in their lives and don't pay attention to the stress retirement can place on relationships, especially if a couple is not on the same page for their plans. When they're not travelling, Trow and his wife spend a lot of volunteering and working on personal projects. Trow also started a daily mailing group on the stock market and took up photography. “Retirement has to be about your choices, not other people's expectations of it. Create a new life routine and go with it.” Trow says retirement has been a “wildly” successful experience. Retirement is not a new life, and you are not a new person, says LaValley. “Retirement is just life but hopefully with the opportunity to do what you want, when you want, and how you want. Keep structure in your life, get on the same page as your partner, and don't think that leisure is what life is all about.”
Here are some retirement suggestions:
Paid Work Opportunities: Continue working part-time, on contract, as a consultant, start your own business, or buy a franchise.
Education Opportunities: Learn a new skill and work part-time in that field or start your own business.
Volunteer Opportunities: Work casual hours at shelter, a non-profit association such as a charity, or a food bank.
Go Overseas: Work or volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, Doctors Without Borders; teach or volunteer in an orphanage, build schools, teach sustainable farming practices, implement clean water systems.
Travel: Plan a few trips per year across Canada and/or the United States. Once-in-a-lifetime trips can be planned once per year or as your finances permit.
Miscellaneous Opportunities: teach or take online courses, learn a new skill, perfect a hobby or craft.