Plan for an independent retirement

In case you did not know, our population is aging and it will have lasting economic and social implications. The baby boomers are just starting to retire and all facets of society are trying to prepare for this trend. As a result, the concept of retirement is changing right in front of your eyes.

  1. Retirement is more active. If you go back to 1900, retirement did not exist. Life expectancy back then was about 48 years of age so people died before they got a chance to retire. Today, the 65-year-old is younger and more active than ever and has a good chance of living another 10, or 25 years. Retirement can be the beginning of something special … some of the best years of your life. Today, you can plan for a retirement that is active and fun.
  1. Work may be part of retirement. One of the biggest changes in retirement is it is no longer about never working again. More and more Canadians are working beyond the age of 65. Studies show that an increasing number of retirees are going back to work after they retire. Some do it for the money, but many do it for enjoyment. Others go back to work to create structure in the day, to be around people, to accomplish things, for a reason to get up in the morning, to learn new skills, or do a “fun” job. Work is a big part of your life so it’s important to plan for your work and career, even in retirement.
  1. The importance of planning for independence. Most people want to be as independent as possible for as long as possible. Therefore, it is critical that you take time to plan for your future. You have primary responsibility for preparing for your senior years, including your ability to meet basic needs and secure resources that you will require for the lifestyle you choose as you age.

There’s an old saying, “Every road will take you somewhere, but is that somewhere the place you want to be?” You are on a path today. Planning simply means looking ahead to see if you are heading on the right path in the right direction. If not, you need to make changes. That’s all planning is: taking time out of your busy life to look up and ahead of you to see where you are going. If you don’t look up, you’ll head somewhere, but it may not be the right place!

Every decision you make today affects tomorrow and has implications for your future. Now is the time to plan for the future, not only to ensure you have a decent lifestyle but also to make yourself accountable for your actions. Your future can be anything you want it to be, but you will need to plan to ensure that it is what you want it to be.

Although these factors come from a retirement context, remember that retirement is simply a life within a life. Retirement may be a good representation of your future life.

Lifestyle planning: Are you stressed or happy?

One of the best ways to plan your retirement lifestyle is to take a look at the life you are living and reflect on what makes you happy and what causes you stress. Generally speaking, stress and happiness are opposite feelings. When you are stressed, you probably are not happy and when you are happy, you probably don’t have a lot of stress.

When you look at your overall life, how do you feel about it? It is not always easy to answer this question and often answers tend to be general or vague:

“I’m mostly happy.”
“I don’t have a lot to complain about.”
“I’m happier than not.”
“My life could be better.”
“It’s not that bad.”

Be specific about how you can improve your life

Broad statements and generic terminology do not often support change because they lack clarity and meaning.

The key to more independence and happiness is to reflect on your life today to establish not only areas of your life that are positive and strong, but also understand areas of your life that can be improved.


  1. Bill Birnbaum

    I certainly agree that the would-be retiree is best off planning for his (or her) retirement. But, at the same time, he (or she) should also allow for, and expect, appropriate change. Once retired, a person can expect some “floundering around” before finding their “true retired self.” Bill

  2. CV

    Jim, are you familiar with the book “You Could Live A Long Time, Are You Ready?” I’m looking for some general feedback on it. My understanding is it is about having a fulfilling retirement, not necessarily based on the financial aspects of retirement.

    For me, stressed or happy? So Very Happy! Been doing loads of financial planning lately and although I’m a late starter on the savings side, I think I’ll be OK. Enough to keep body & soul together and enjoy some low-key hobbies. Be able to ramp up my volunteering and take long walks on our local waterfront. Just got to convince one of my kids to move back to the area and bring some grand-babies with them. Can’t wait!

  3. Vanessa

    Planning is essential when it comes to retirement. Of course everyone should look forward and make sure that they are on the right path to increase their happiness, but one should also look forward to ensure that they are on the right path financially as well. The last thing you want to do is approach retirement without adequate finances.

  4. Caviar

    Yes… I agree with this post.

  5. WorkingBoomer

    Thank you for writing this very helpful post. It brings up a lot of useful points. I will be back to this site to read more.

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