I’m Definitely Ready To Retire… Maybe.

Finish the following sentence: if I only had more time, I would…

So many Canadians are approaching and contemplating retirement; however, retirement can mean very different things to each. In this article, we discuss not the financial readiness, but rather the emotional readiness for retirement. Emotions when contemplating transitioning to retirement can range widely from fear and stress to excitement and relief.

We help many clients plan for, and live in, retirement. The first step we take in our proprietary Retirement VIEW approach is getting our clients to visualize their retirement. When approaching retirement, we encourage exploration and discussion in order to help our clients refine their retirement vision. This exercise takes place in a lively guided conversation that often lasts hours. The question at the top of this article is just one of many we ask in this process.

What’s interesting is that we receive two types of responses: those who have an answer, and those who don’t. Whether an individual can easily picture their retirement or whether they struggle with doing so, there are a few things everyone can do to feel more confident about retirement.

The important thing is that they take the time to reflect, not just once, but habitually reassess along the way.

Start visualizing today

People who have been deeply engaged in their careers, and have not spent a lot of time on themselves or on their relationships, often find visualizing a quieter life to be daunting. Without a clear vision in mind, they’re more likely to make spontaneous decisions to fill the void when entering retirement; they may try to compensate for the loss of busyness, responsibility, personal identity and social identity by quickly replacing old routines and activities with new ones. And while this can certainly work for some, others quickly feel frustrated by the pace at which they are continuing in retirement. It’s important to take time today to think of what you want your post-work life to look like. The more you prepare emotionally, the better you can embrace it.

Revisit your picture regularly

Some people have a much easier time picturing their retirement. They have usually spent years transitioning, consciously or unconsciously, by embracing hobbies and slowing down their work schedules. When asked what they plan on doing in retirement, they list a plethora of activities and are often already engaged in those activities. While retirement can be easier to visualize for these individuals, their transition may not necessarily happen without challenges. The occasional golfer who plays every Sunday with his three best friends, may find that golfing every day does not bring the same pleasure. The couple who started taking longer vacations and travelling to remote locations across the globe, may find that they do not want to do that more often than they were doing pre-retirement. It helps to talk it through, write down what’s important, and revisit that list along the way. Thinking about the smaller day-to-day activities, such as gardening, hiking or reading, helps to ensure a smoother and enjoyable transition early on in retirement.

Take a step back when you retire

I remember asking an individual who had been in a prominent public position before retiring if he had any advice for others planning retirement. He recommended everyone should take six months before making larger commitments (like joining volunteer boards). He suggested they give themselves that time to figure out what is most important to them. He urged new retirees not to rush out and take the first opportunity that presents itself to fill a void. The abrupt shift from a full, busy career to a wide-open schedule can be disorienting, and it helps to pause and reflect on what will truly make them happy.

Prepare as a couple

Couples who are transitioning to retirement have the added complexity of understanding what retirement together means. A while back, a client of mine confessed that she was not ready to retire. Her husband was several years older and already retired. She assumed he was waiting for her to join him in retirement so that she could, as she put it, “wait on him and serve him lunch.” She preferred to keep on working. It’s not uncommon for couples to avoid discussing what is important to each of them, but it is a problem. In early retirement, couples need to readjust to spending more time together. This should feel like an exciting next step – not one to be dreaded – and, with open dialogue, can indeed be a smooth, positive transition. Our visualization conversations help couples better understand each other’s view of retirement so that they can look forward to it together.

Retirement is a process, not a decision. Thinking about it should be exciting. The idea of replacing stress and responsibility with relaxation and enjoyable activities is delightful. Some individuals are emotionally ready to retire and have a clear vision of their early retirement life. Many are not as sure, and plan on using early retirement as an opportunity to try new activities and hobbies. Exploring retirement is a natural first phase for everyone, as they adjust to having more free time.

At Tall Oak Private Wealth, we help clients who are preparing for retirement by helping them visualize their individual Retirement VIEW. Once a clearer picture of retirement is drawn, we can then help retirees understand their financial readiness and answer the most important question they face throughout retirement: “Am I ok?”

At Tall Oak Private Wealth, we look forward to continuing conversations with you as we help you in planning your retirement.

The views expressed in this commentary are those of Tall Oak Capital Advisors as at the date of publication and are subject to change without notice. This commentary is presented only as a general source of information and is not intended as a solicitation to buy or sell specific investments, nor is it intended to provide tax or legal advice. Statistics, factual data and other information are from sources Tall Oak believes to be reliable but their accuracy cannot be guaranteed. This commentary is intended for distribution only in those jurisdictions where Tall Oak Capital Advisors are registered. Securities-related products and services are offered through Raymond James Correspondent Services Ltd., member Canadian Investor Protection Fund. Insurance products and services are offered through Gryphin Advantage Inc., which is not a member-Canadian Investor Protection Fund. This commentary may provide links to other Internet sites for the convenience of users. Tall Oak Capital Advisors is not responsible for the availability or content of these external sites, nor does Tall Oak Capital Advisors endorse, warrant or guarantee the products, services or information described or offered at these other Internet sites. Users cannot assume that the external sites will abide by the same Privacy Policy which Tall Oak Capital Advisors adheres to.