Picture yourself in retirement long before you retire

Think about what your future self will be thanking you for in terms of the decisions you make now. Could it be paying off debt? Could it be becoming mortgage-free? Could it be keeping physically fit and active? Could it be spending time enriching and strengthening your relationships? Or could it be doing the downsizing move now or sooner rather than later?

Ed Zinkiewicz of Nashville, Tennessee suggests creating a visual picture of what you and your future will look like. Where will you be? Who are you with? What are you doing? Then compare that image with that of your spouse if you have one and your family as retirement is seldom a solo act. Only one-third of couples compare their expectations for what retirement will be like. This may be another cause of silver-haired divorce on the rise.

Related article: Building a retirement Vision

Some expect to revocate by starting a business or consulting or getting a part-time job. Some spouses think this a great idea while others want their partners available to travel or just hang out more. Find out before plans cause conflict!

Paradise syndrome

You may say I’m a dreamer and why not? If not now, when? That is the attitude that can cause folks to spread wings and fly away to exotic lands they have always dreamed of experiencing. However, there is no perfect place, no geographical cure for any dissatisfaction with your life. Take a trip to check out that special place before you sign up for a whole new life. Experience life there first. This is a great way to practice retirement before you retire.

I had a couple tell me they would move to Ecuador for retirement but they had never been there. They did not speak Spanish. Their plan developed from an article they read about it being a great place to retire. One article was the extent of their research but they were going to sell out and head out based on that and their sense of adventure.

We all need a mission and purpose and many of us get that through our work. Some dissatisfied with their work lives find a whole new world in retirement while others continue to feel frustrated with their lot in life. We may need to find another mission or purpose, a reason to be, to feel important and engaged.

I love it when a plan comes together

For those of you that remember the TV series from the ’80s, the A-Team was usually successful because they were daring, brave, inventive, and they had a plan. I suggest you do the same when it comes to your retirement! Be bold in your vision of what you want your quality of life to be. Be brave and go after the life you want. Get creative and inventive to make it happen. But most important of all, have a plan!

Related article: 3 basic steps for your retirement plan

If you have a plan, you will be ahead of most retirees. Only about one-third of pre-retirees have a financial plan of any kind. Fewer have a lifestyle plan! If you do not know where you are going, how will you know when you get there?

What are your retirement plans?


  1. ESI

    I’m getting ready to retire soon.

    I’ve certainly pictured it (and planned what I want to accomplish and how) but have not taken a test drive as of yet.

    Wish me luck! I could be jumping off a bridge…

  2. Elizabeth

    A friend suggested to me that I start my retirement activities now, while I’m still working at my (very stressful) full-time job. This way, not only do I stop deferring doing the things I’ve been looking forward to, I also create stability by establishing routines that will straddle my employed and unemployed/retired lives.

    So – I’ve started volunteering at my local animal shelter (minimum shift for now), and I’m happily looking to register for a couple of evening courses this fall. Originally I would’ve considered these as things I simply don’t have time and energy for – but when they’re reframed as a graceful segue into retirement, suddenly I do 🙂

  3. Claude Mayrand

    I never thought of a plan when I was working. But I did try to put money away in an RHOSP and an RRSP; they were secondary objectives after child support and daily living.

    In my working life I think I took four vacations; no money or new jobs.

    I was lucky that I could benefit from the RHOSP when it was cancelled and before it became taxable.

    Even deciding to retire, because I was older and could only get replies from minimum wage jobs, involved a self-employed job of sorts to develop an income strategy from my meagre RRSP capital.

    Maybe it’s because a man is less likely to multi-task – work and maybe plan – but it seems I concentrated more on keeping my job more than anything else.

    When working I never had time for non-job activities. Today I do some volunteering, monitor my portfolio (my job) and travel every few years.

    Turned out OK. A little luck, average health, a little daring and Ta-Daaaaa.

  4. Mike

    I will be 51 and retired in November. My spouse just retired at 60. I was a very good saver and investor, and we both have US pensions. My spouse had spent summers at his grandparents home in NY state, and I have spent summer weekends there for the past 20 years. I bought my always-dreamed-of 50 acres of farm land down the road 9 years ago. Since I grew up a few miles from the NJ shore, I always dreamed of living within biking distance of the beach, where I could wear shorts and t-shirts year-round. So, we explored Florida, and vacationed in Venice, Florida for a few years. Last year, we bought the Florida house. It wasn’t the beach cottage that I’d dreamed of, but in a great neighborhood within biking distance to the beach. So, I will have 7 months a year in Florida and 5 months in NY state. I will have time to bike ride, garden, and explore my love of architecture. But, I still have dreams that I want to fulfill. I’ve always dreamed of “living above the store.” In a village or urban area with an apartment upstairs and bookstore/coffee shop/dress shop down below. And, to travel to great parts of the US and Canada that I have dreamed of seeing, or which I would like to see again. For me, the financial planning part was easy. And, finding a few home base wasn’t too difficult. My life isn’t all that I expected it would be. And, now with retirment upon me, it is important to develop a new sense of self, but most importantly, to remember that it is still important to dream.

    • Claude Mayrand


      I’m kinda jealous of your long term planning and/or dreaming skills.

      I have some, but mostly I’ve been reacting to situations most of my life. It has made me adaptable and I’m doing fine in my own way.

      Maybe I’ll see you when driving across Canada this summer.

  5. Susan

    I was 60 and planned to work till 65 to pay off debt and build savings.I was making great progress until I got laid off and discovered that no employer wants to hire 60+. Finally got hired again but I learned 3 important lessons.
    1. If I get laid off again before I reach my goals, I may not be hired again and will have to do consulting work. I didn’t want to do that this time but it is something I should prepare for.
    2. Keep expenses at retirement level. Once I was laid off, I cut expenses to the bone and discovered how much money I was wasting. I now colour my hair, cook and do yard work myself. 3. 3. The extra hours I was spending at my job were causing me to pay others to do what I should do myself. Now I work only the hours I’m paid for.

    • Claude Mayrand


      I was out of work at 56, could only get hired at minimum wage, and part-time at that.

      I set out to use my meagre RRSP funds and a small cash account to generate minimum wage income. That took very little time using my curiosity on the Internet, learning to use OPM in this low interest rate environment, understanding that some income is 100% taxable and some is tax free, or very close to zero.

      The lesson for me and Susan is that change happens and change can be initiated.

      There are no guarantees.

  6. Maggie

    I’ve started building an online business 10 years ago, when I was still working full time, in order to have an extra income when I retire. The biggest advantage of having a web based business is that you can run it from where ever you live, as long as there’s Internet access.

    I’ve also done a lot of research about potential retirement countries with warm climate and lower cost of living (reading one article is certainly not enough to make such a big decision).

    Best is to research a lot, narrow down your choices to your top 3 and then do a “test run” in those countries. I am currently doing this in Nicaragua.

    • Claude Mayrand

      Go Maggie!

      A little daring, a lot of research, some goals and planning, and Voilà!

      I often use cooking to illustrate that we all can learn something useful without becoming a chef but satisfying our need. This would apply to your retirement destination as well as managing your retirement income.


      • Maggie

        Thank you Claude!

        I like you cooking analogy. Although I have to admit for me it is much easier to move to a foreign country than to do proper financial planning for my retirement.

        Saludos, as they say in Nicaragua.

  7. Barry penny

    I received my first CPP payment at 65 after 8 years on CPP disability. I was surprised that my payment was approx. $100 less than anticipated! I have heard that after my income tax is evaluated by CPP may go up and I will receive a retro cheque to address it about 9 months after I started CPP retirement. Is this accurate? Thank you.

    • Doug Runchey

      Hi Barry – That is one of the silliest stories that I’ve heard. I hope you weren’t told this by anybody at Service Canada? Exactly who would be evaluating what? What could the possibly find that would make your CPP go up? Could this “evaluation” find something that could cause your CPP to go down instead?
      What was the amount of your CPP disability before you turned 65 and how much is your CPP retirement pension? Were you having any tax withheld from your disability and is there any tax being withheld from your retirement payment?

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