What have you planned for your retirement?

Need help in answering this question? There’s a program that could guide you to a new lifestyle.

Barbara Barb Bowes Transitions
Barbara Bowes
Transitions

A recent Canadian 2014 national survey regarding men/women and retirement sponsored by RBC alerted me to a few surprising findings. First, the survey of almost 4,000 adults, age 50-plus, reported that only 36 per cent of couples openly discussed how they will finance their retirement and how they planned to live their life after retirement. Secondly, the survey demonstrated a distinct difference between the goals and objectives of men versus women with respect to what they intended to do when retired.

Not only that, 86 per cent of surveyed Canadians indicated they were very reluctant to discuss how they would manage health issues that might arise and/or the death of either spouse or partner. Typically, people nearing retirement are concerned about saving enough money for retirement and of course the headlines are always focusing on the doom and gloom that might arise from running out of savings and/or having insufficient pension plans. Thus, much of the anxiety people experience is typically based on how to find the right spending balance so they can maintain their pre-retirement standard of living.

Plan for living needed
However, I believe it is equally important to plan for the softer side of life. Just what will you be doing when you retire? I know people who spend the first year travelling the world, but eventually they want to come home. Still others dream of spending all their time on a golf course, but soon enough they too want to come home. It’s almost as though these activities create an artificial emotional “high” but they don’t really satisfy to the depth of one’s soul.

Interestingly enough, finding satisfaction in retirement is similar to finding satisfaction in your work life. For instance, if you enjoyed being around and working with other people, then going into solitary confinement following retirement won’t create satisfaction. Sure, you might need time to collect your thoughts and rest but eventually you will need to seek out people-oriented activities. The same applies to people who love to work with their hands; they will soon be seeking a similar activity in retirement.

In today’s world there are plenty of things to do and plenty of strategies to determine what activities are best for you in retirement. As well, it is wise to start thinking about this challenge well before your last day of work. One of the tools that I use and find helpful is an assessment tool and training program called New Horizons.

Portrait of personal needs
New Horizons – Mapping Your Life Options® is a special program for the mature workforce. The program helps employees prepare for this transition by assessing their retirement readiness and strategically planning for a future aligned with their changing lifestyle to bring renewed fulfillment. Participants undertake a series of assessments and then create a self-portrait of personal needs that guides them toward becoming fully invested in a new and rewarding lifestyle of their own design.

The time and energy you take to plan for retirement should be no different than planning and readjusting your working career. However, since this transition moves you into the “third quarter” of your life, it is indeed important to discuss and plan for the other critical life issues that will arise. This includes those universally avoided subjects of health and death.

As well, the New Horizons program invites spouses and/or partners to also take the assessment and engage in discussion. And as with the research stated above, I have also found that many couples have not discussed retirement beyond the financial nuances. The program therefore provides a basis for discussion on numerous topics and can help people come to consensus on how their retirement will look from a social emotional perspective rather than simply a financial viewpoint. It is certainly a pleasure to see clients walk away from meetings with a clearer goal and a positive view of the future.

Big decisions could lie ahead
While 86 per cent of surveyed Canadians indicated they were very reluctant to discuss how they would manage health issues that might arise, I also find that most people do not know how to access our health care system beyond making an appointment at the doctor’s office. Do you need major surgery only to be told the wait list is longer than you would like to hear? Do you know how to access a personal care facility should it be needed? Most of us take our health care services for granted and pay little attention until it is needed.

All in all, there is more to retirement than simply a financial formula. Take time now to explore the social and emotional elements of your retirement and don’t forget to focus some attention on the potential health care issues that might arise. As someone who recently experienced a family crisis where death was knocking at our door, understanding how the health care system works is more important than you think.

Barbara J. Bowes is president of Legacy Bowes Group and is president of Career Partners International, Manitoba branch. She can be reached at barb@legacybowes.com.

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