Messages from men in retirement

I was curious about what men in their first few years of retirement would say to other men approaching their own retirement. I also polled some retirement coaches who work with people preparing for or adjusting to the end of their formal careers. Here are some interesting thoughts on men in retirement … their own retirement.

Your choice of timing

The range here is everything from ‘take your time’ on one end to ‘go for it’ on the other. In their own words:

“Go slowly as once you remove yourself from the job market, it is more difficult to get back into the job market in your chosen career.” This quote came from someone who still takes contracts from a previous position.

“Let it be your idea, your choice if you can, not your spouse’s, your employer’s, your doctor’s. I mean listen to them but you need to call this one if you can. I know not everybody can do that but I think it best to make it your decision when you want to retire.”

“If you are already thinking about it, you are already halfway out the door.”

“If you have the health and the means, why wait? Really, why not?”

“I had gone as far in my career as I wanted and retirement was a viable option for me and I’m glad I took it.”

Heads up

When I asked about cautions or advice this is what I heard:

“I find that the biggest fear men express has to do with not having enough to do.”

“Find a sense of purpose. Do something meaningful. Travel and golf are OK at the start but then you want more.”

“Many retired men have marital conflict.” Note: Only about one-third of couples discuss their individual views and ideas about retirement prior to one or both retiring. Be careful of assumptions and really communicate about how you see your new lives.

“We know that a sedentary retirement can mean weight gain and more chronic conditions. The biggest mistake, in terms of fitness, is trying too much too soon and getting injured or discouraged. So ease in, set your goals, be consistent and make new habits.” Note: Those who exercise and are active are happier and healthier and thus have a better quality of life.

“I’ve been a good provider, an achiever, and striver and so what do I do now was a big question for me. I was afraid my self-esteem would suffer. Now I am trying to figure out who I am now and what I want to experience next. My wife Is still working and so I have some time to get my new life going.”

“I should have started succession planning way before I did.”

”I watched some of my co-workers go into retirement with this deer in the headlights thing and that is why I looked around for things to do before retiring. I’d already started working with a disaster relief organization and just did more of that at the beginning. I have branched out more since then but it was a great way to start.”

”You need a bit of a plan and need to do something that has some spirit to it. I get bored with the guys who only talk about their ailments or their golf games.”

“Lots of men have essentially deferred ‘living’ during their employment years and so find little to look forward to. They need to find activities that appeal to them and that allow for creating a new identity.”

“If you find yourself stressed or swamped in negativity, get help! It is a vicious circle and only gets worse.” Note: Watch out for anxiety, boredom, depression, lack of mental or physical stimulation, irritability, or a negative reaction to the loss of status.


It’s interesting that I heard nothing about finances from anyone. Although it is a big concern prior to retirement, it is just another adjustment to make after the new reality is there.

Any other words of caution or advice?


  1. Peter Lofthouse

    Finances in retirement…I believe in the old adage of it’s not what you make but what you spend..and get creative!

  2. Joe Wasylyk

    @Jim, There were some good comments in your survey article about men approaching or entering retirement. I think that this problem is more serious in reality if what you say is true i.e. men just want to talk about golf scores & personal ailments.

    Woman are better off because they congregate naturally in pairs or groups talking about retirement or other important things. Also, women are usually more computer literate and as a result have a better chance of selecting a suitable second or third act in this information age.

    My suggestion for Edmonton and area is to have the Edmonton Economic Development department which sponsors Startup Edmonton organize some retirement planning workshops. Hopefully, we can use the same facilities and resources as the younger under 40 entrepreneurs are currently using. Here there would be an opportunity for like-minded mature men or woman to discuss what they want to do in their retirement life and have mentors help them achieve it. If we don’t do something about the men’s issue in retirement then expect many men to give up, anxiety and depression cases will rise which could lead to more suicides.

    • Jim Yih

      Thanks for the comment Joe. Have you reached out to Edmonton Economic Development? What have they said about your suggestion?

    • Tom

      I am not sure that women are more computer literate than men, i think age has more to do with it. If you have a wife 20 years younger, she is more likely to be more literate

  3. Joe Wasylyk

    @Jim, in the past year I have had many frustrations and senior entrepreneurship growing pains. Not too long ago I had a personal meeting with an Edmonton Economic Development representative, to talk about how we could help the over 40 or 50 demographic group participate more in the field of entrepreneurship. Recently, I received an e-mail informing me that a ‘special study’ has been completed and will be presented to Edmonton Economic Development department for their consideration & decision. Thanks Jim, for allowing me the opportunity to discuss this important issue.

  4. Claude Mayrand

    I decided to stop having a job in 2001. I opted for part-time “demonstration” jobs for a few years and to concentrate my income generation to my current retirement capital.

    Because of my age and prior job experiences, I couldn’t find acceptable (to me) jobs that paid more than minimum wage.

    At first, I planned to generate the income of a minimum wage job with my current retirement capital. That took about 6 months to achieve.

    Personality comes into play in my choices, but I found that this “job” gave me something to do with measurable successes (cash) and stimulating intellectually by searching, listening and executing trades in my discount brokerage. And analyzing my mistakes.

    At the beginning, I spent a lot of time at this to prove/confirm my actions and findings. Now, about 15 years later, the average month is about 25 hours… per month!

    Anyone who holds Mutual Funds can do the same thing I’m doing now, using closed-end funds.

    Hope this helps others who don’t play golf but like cash.

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