How to Retire Properly

You’ve worked hard and the big 6-5 is looming large. When it’s time to retire, how do you give up your suit and not your life?

Career planner Al Jones of LifeShift, retirement coach Isabelle St. Jean of Inspired Momentum and Christopher Fortune of Retirement Advantage Coaching share some ideas.

Expand your network
Think about your social life: how much of it is related to hanging out with colleagues? “A lot of the people you hang out with, you meet them through work,” observes Fortune. “You have to replace those friends. . . . Once you leave work, you pretty much leave your friends behind as well.” Get your social circle in place before you collect your last paycheque; make an effort to nurture new friendships by keeping in touch with the new people you meet at confer­ences or social events.

Think long-term
You’re retiring, not dying. Chances are, at 65 you’ve got another 20 to 30 (or more) years ahead of you. Make a list of goals you want to accomplish in five years, 10 years and 15 years – or later. “Most people think, ‘I’ve got to put money in my RRSP to support the next 25 years,’” observes Jones. “What they don’t think about for 25 years is, ‘Holy shit, what am I going to do?’”

Feed your brain
We all know the importance of a fit body. But what good is a washboard stomach if you can’t remember how to get to the gym? “They’ve found that the brain is actually more plastic than we thought,” says St. Jean. “It can stay sharp for a long time, provided that we keep engaging it.” Keep your mind active: learn a new language, enroll in some evening courses or join a book club. As St. Jean puts it, “You need fertilizer for the brain.”

Talk to your spouse
You and your partner are going to be spending a lot of time together soon, but don’t expect a second honeymoon. After retirement, long-married couples end up spending a lot of time together “and battle over control,” notes Jones. Be proactive: discuss how you’re going to negotiate this change. You might even sign up for some pre-emptive couples counselling. “I don’t know if you’d call it negotiation, but there should be some understanding and expectations about where will this take us and what do we want to do?” says Jones.

Don’t retire
“The word retirement has a very heavy and weighted connotation to it,” says Jones: “end, finish, worthless, no good. It’s not retirement; it’s a transfor­mation.” According to St. Jean, “Statistics show that the rate of entrepreneurship rises for people in later life.” Maybe now’s the time to build that rocket in your garage.