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You’ll need more than money to plan a happy retirement

You’ll need more than money to plan a happy retirement

By the time you retire, you’ll know that retirement is about more than money; it’s about designing the life you want.


Like any career transition, there will be a significant shift in your day-to-day activities. What is surprising to most people is that the changes are not all feel-good changes. Many of us buy into the media-hype about retirement being our ‘golden years’, but haven’t given much thought to what we’ll be doing in retirement? Where we’ll be doing it?  or what it might feel like to say a final goodbye to our regular routines, colleagues, and sense of contribution to the world.

According to Everyday Health

Retirement can trigger a complex range of emotions, including fear and depression…Retirement is, in fact, a complex experience for almost everyone, characterized by gains and losses and tremendous shifts in identity and routines.

What can you do to make the transition to retirement go as smoothly as possible?


A client’s wife had been giving retirement some thought. Six months before her official retirement date, we shared this exchange.

“Maureen, I read your ProMotion post today (I always enjoy what you write) and thought I would share with you that I am taking the plunge and retiring!!!! This career and I have served each other very well but it is time for a new journey. My head and heart are sometimes in shock with this decision but I am spending time planning, researching, and dreaming about the next door that I will be opening. … I want to do this retirement thing well. My identity for the last 30 years has been linked to [my profession] … I want to deal with any “identity crisis” before it may happen. Plus, I am still trying to figure out what retirement will look like before I reinvent myself.”


“Congratulations, [Name]! How exciting for you.


After 30 years of [your career], you may experience the five stages of grief (Dr Elizabeth Kubler-Ross)…that is definitely a topic I’d research if I were you. No one expects it, but it may happen so be prepared. If you’re prepared and anticipate it, I find you’re better equipped to manage it…


While you’re learning about managing grief, find things that bring you joy.

Fill your first few weeks with these things; then search out new things that bring you joy. But for now, start with what you know for sure fills your spirit. You’ll do well to find ways to nurture yourself while seeking ways to give. It’s a tough balance to find at first, but with some preparation and planning, things will come together for you.”


“Is it wrong that I just want to indulge in nothingness and just hang out with animals, rather than people, for a while?”


“Not at all! In fact, you’re asking all the right questions and focusing on all the right things (your values and what’s most important to you).

You’re going to be great at this next stage.

Trust yourself.

You already have the answers.”

She was ready to retire. She was asking all the right questions and giving her retirement serious consideration. But what if you’re not ready to retire?

Not everyone who can retire wants to retire

According to an article published in the Harvard Business Review, “…the wealthiest people are the most likely to want to keep working, and 80% of retirees who work say they are doing so because they want to, rather than because they have to.”

Phased Retirement

HR magazine in the UK  tells us “Those who managed to wind down into retirement gradually also tended to have better outcomes.”

Each of us is ultimately working towards retirement one day. Yes, it’s important to be financially prepared for our retirement. Equally important is to be mentally and physically prepared to thrive in retirement. What are you doing to prepare for that?

Related Categories: Career Clarity, Client Questions & Answers, Job Search

About The Author
Maureen McCann is an award-winning career coach, master resume writer, and master certified interview, employment, and career strategist whose clients include C-level executives, managers, and professionals in all industries including the Canadian banking, oil and gas, healthcare, IT, and government sectors.

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