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Life After Work: Thriving in Retirement

Retirement is often portrayed in popular culture as an idyllic and rewarding time for relaxation, leisure activities and enjoying the company of family and friends. And while this dream comes true for some, research indicates that many people find the reality far less appealing – even if they are financially well prepared, they are not emotionally prepared.

It takes resilience to manage the transition to retirement and design your next phase of life. Many retirees report feelings of sadness, loneliness or boredom as they struggle to fill the void left by their career identity and/or professional network, despite their best intentions to remain active, engaged and productive.

And while retirement does provide the time to realize long-held dreams, plans that focus solely on leisure activities like travel and golf ignore the often-mundane reality of day-to-day living.

With guidance and careful preparation, however, many people can thrive in retirement as they pursue new interests, develop connections, make meaningful contributions, and explore the world around them.

A broader approach

“A bucket list is not a retirement plan; it is simply a list of activities.”

Most retirement conversations emphasize financial readiness, leaving the complex emotional and relational elements untouched. All Canadians should consider a broader view of life after full time work, digging deeper into their needs and expectations to prepare them for the many non-financial challenges they may face in retirement.

Today’s retirees are living longer, more active lives and can reasonably expect to be retired for 25 to 30 years. Rather than a fixed destination, therefore, their retirement picture should be viewed as a roadmap that evolves as conditions change and as they continue to re-invent themselves over time. Many retirees are looking for resources to help them navigate these changes, whether they are planned or unexpected.

According to Russel Baskin, a family business advisor and certified executive coach with Trella Advisory Group, one of the biggest questions for people approaching retirement should be, “What do you value about work, and how can you reasonably replace it in retirement?” 

7 retirement considerations

Making the transition from a full-time career to retirement can be stressful, but the better prepared you are, the easier it will be. Here are some key life considerations that retirees typically encounter as the demands of full-time work draw to a close, and ideas for coping with the changes that will come:

  1. Purpose and meaning. Business owners, professionals, and those who have strongly identified with work and successful careers often feel an acute loss of status in retirement. Filling this bucket may involve paid or unpaid work, leadership activities, or the start of a new venture.
  2. Contribution. Like having a purpose, many retirees feel the need to be useful. They should explore what matters most to them and how they can apply their skills, talents and wisdom to “give back” to a cause that is larger than themselves.
  3. Health and aging. No one can avoid the consequences of aging, and many retirees feel limited by their declining health and mobility. It’s important to find ways to accept our changing physical, mental and emotional selves and to pay attention to nutrition, exercise and rest.
  4. Mental and emotional wellbeing. Even if you have been looking forward to it, the major changes associated with retirement can result in stress, anxiety and a loss of confidence. Tactics to support your mental health may include mindfulness, meditation, connection with nature and the openness to seek professional support when needed.
  5. Primary relationships. Retirement alters the dynamic of daily life with a spouse or partner, causing friction around small and larger issues. Many retired couples discover substantial differences about money, moving, and the amount of time they will spend together. It’s important to discuss your vision of retirement and not assume that your partner’s is the same.
  6. Family and friends. Many people underestimate the value of social connection at work, and the loss of daily interaction can leave retirees feeling lonely. Close friends and peers may still be working, making it important to seek out new connections. Alternatively, family and friends may make additional demands on your time, making it necessary to set boundaries.
  7.  Spirituality and faith. Many retirees find themselves seeking support, guidance and a larger social network as they navigate the next phase of their life. While their trusted advisors can be important source of advice, turning (or returning) to spirituality can bring a greater sense of meaning and connection.

The Wellington-Altus Advanced Wealth Planning Group can help clients prepare for the many financial and non-financial aspects of retirement. For more information and for a list of questions to jump start your reflections on retirement readiness, contact your Wellington-Altus advisor.

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The information contained herein has been provided for information purposes only. The information does not provide financial, legal, tax or investment advice. Particular investment, tax, or trading strategies should be evaluated relative to each individual’s objectives and risk tolerance. Wellington-Altus Financial Inc. (Wellington-Altus) is the parent company to Wellington-Altus Private Wealth (WAPW), Wellington-Altus Private Counsel Inc. (WAPC), Wellington-Altus Insurance Inc. (WAII), Wellington-Altus Group Solutions (WAGS), and Wellington-Altus USA. Wellington-Altus (WA) does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information contained herein. WAPW is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada.

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