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Calgary, AB
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Transitioning To a Happy Retirement

​Retirement is an exciting and well-deserved time after your working life, but unfortunately a common side effect of its excessive down time is that many people experience retiree’s remorse. Although leisure time is enjoyable, many retirees feel unfulfilled and miss their work life. This is especially common amongst business owners whose work becomes a huge part of their personal identity. Retirement is a major life changing event and retirees face what is essentially the last transition in their life. Here are nine tips to help you avoid retiree’s remorse and transition into retirement happily.

1. If you’re a business owner don’t quit cold turkey, slowly lessen your work load.
It can be incredibly hard for business owners to walk away from their businesses and even harder for them to find something else to fill their time and put their energy into. For business owners retiree’s remorse is extremely common and it can be hard to let go of something that you devoted your life to building.  To build trust in your new owners and slowly start your transition, increasingly lessen your role in the business in the month’s leading up to retirement and increase new management’s responsibility. This will give you comfort in their abilities and help you transition out of your working life.

2. When it’s time – walk away. Put together a life without your business.
Once you have sold your business it is time to step back and move on. To help you transition into your retirement happily and successfully avoid including any old work activities or patterns into your new life. Try to build your new life without your old business.  To transition into this stage, you need to find a new purpose to feel a sense of closure from your working days.

3. Plan and test out new activities before you retire.
Although people plan how they will afford retirement most people do not plan their new life much further than their first vacation. What frustrates most retirees is they quit their job one day and have nothing to do the next, so it is smart to plan things you want to try in advance. Begin by trying out these new pursuits in the months before you retire to find which you like best. This will make for a smoother more enjoyable transition as you will have things to look forward to spending your time on. You may want to plan the top four or five things you want to focus on in the first months of your retirement. Whether it is coaching your children’s sports team, joining the parent teacher school board, or taking up tennis, these planned activities will give you some structure from which to build a weekly schedule.

4. Don’t just see your new activities as ‘time-fillers.’
Don’t begrudgingly join a golf club because you are looking for meaningless activities to fill your time. For most, retirement takes decades of hard work to be able to afford and when you reach it you deserve to enjoy it. Take your newfound time to pursue interests you never had time for before and find things that make you feel truly happy and fulfilled. As a business owner you may have derived a sense of personal identity from your work, but you can achieve this same sense of self from devoting your time to new passions. The most important thing is to find things that engage you.

5. Join a club or group activity.
Many work-places provide people with a sense of community where they build friendships. Finding something like a club or a board to sit on will give you this group experience that you may feel you are missing out on after you retire.

6. Plan with your spouse.
Sit down with your spouse and plan out what each of you wants to do in retirement. Having a life partner in retirement means you have more time to spend together than ever before. Enjoy this time and establish your personal goals and things you want to pursue together.  Helping your spouse achieve their goals and try things that they have always wanted to do will be fulfilling for you as well.

7. Don’t rush into too many life changes at once.
Retiring from your business can be overwhelming. Some people think the key to reinvention is shifting their entire life and making huge changes like selling their house or moving away. These drastic changes may not help you build a new identity but take away your identity all together. It is best to try and limit how many big decisions you are making at this time, retiring is a big enough change to adjust to.

8. Handling self-examination.
Retirement is a reinvention and that can be hard for many people to cope with. You may be known for what you did in your working career but that part of your life is behind you. You want to continue to do things that fulfill you and define you. After a few years of retirement most people enter a state of self-examination, wondering who they are now, what their purpose is or if they’re still useful. You have to find the answers to these questions to feel a sense of closure from your working days and welcome retirement. It is vital to understand what fulfills and engages you in life, which is why finding activities you love is so important.  

9. Don’t retire just because you’re 60.
You may be financially prepared to retire, but that doesn’t mean you have to. A lot of people love what they do and you should not feel like you have to stop working just because you are at retirement age. Many choose to continue working with a reduced workload. Continuing to work longer can even have health benefits: studies have shown that working longer can lengthen your life expectancy. In fact, one study showed that for every extra year of early retirement, workers lost about two months off their life expectancy.

If you do plan to retire earlier, worry not, retirement itself is not the reason for these health effects, the attitude that comes with it is. Many people who retire lose engagement with life, a key factor in extending life expectancy. Whether you retire or not, the key is to be engaged with your life and to wake up wanting to work towards things that fulfill you, may that be work, volunteering, or pursuing your personal interests.