Retirements That Work


In this, the fourth of five columns, we continue considering how to better prepare for retirement based on the book Transition to Retirement: The Uncharted Course by taking a look at how things might be going once you’ve retired and experienced the Fair Winds and Clear Skies of those early retirement days, then Stormy Weather when things weren’t exactly the way you’d thought they would be, which in turn created a need to find a Safe Harbour to consider your life now, as a retired person. One of the things to ponder while in your Safe Harbour is “Your Crew, and You,” in other words, those people in your life who might view your retirement a little differently than you do and who might have their own plans for what they might perceive as your “spare” time.

Your Crew, those people who are around you and in your life to a lesser or greater degree, will also be considering what your retirement means to them. Does this mean you will take over more of the care required by your aging parents; provide free babysitting; take on extra tasks at your local club; or put someone out of a job by taking over the house-cleaning and other chores? These are just a few of the many possibilities, there are many more.

It’s worth taking time to consider what the impact of your retirement might mean to those around you. Let’s take your spouse, partner or significant other for example: do you know how he or she views life with you once you are retired? Often retirement is chatted about on and off and we might form an opinion as to how the other person sees the retirement, but they might be incorrect assumptions. Just simple things can become problematic. When you are retired will you sleep in longer, get up earlier, take on a fitness program, go travelling, have coffee mid-morning or first thing, eat all your meals together? While working, your routine is dictated by the work schedule and so the pattern of living you’ve fallen into probably works well. Without that structure, think how your daily life might pan out. After all, you and your significant other may not have spent endless amounts of time just living together other than when you were on holiday, or one was working and one not. Getting together again and creating a daily lifestyle that suits you both is worth talking about even though it might sound a bit irrelevant in the face of the larger financial issues that need to be decided upon.

Perhaps you are anxious to be with your grandchildren and spend lots of time with them. But consider how well this expectation might be received by your children: will it be “oh, no, they are here again” or “why weren’t you able to babysit last week?” It’s definitely worth discussing your retirement and how it might be viewed by your children, as they may well have expectations of you and your “spare” time that could surprise you.

Many of us include multiple cultures within our own personal Crews, and some of those may have different interpretations of retirement, as well as a set of expectations of retired people of which you are unaware. There may even be no concept of retirement in a culture that you may be linked to through one of your Crew, so here again, give it some thought and talk about it.

It’s impossible to consider every possible relationship in this article, but for you, consider who are those people in your Crew and how will they view your retirement. Think about what your retirement will mean to a significant other who has already retired, or won’t retire for a while. There will be adjustments needed by both of you, not only when you retire but also further into the future. Life also can hand you some challenges that you might not have considered: adult children moving home, a grandchild taking up residence, unexpected financial difficulties, health issues that limit choices, and even worldwide disasters that might mean you will not be able to visit places or volunteer abroad as you wanted to.

Yes, your retirement is about you, but like it or not, the members of your Crew influence your life and have expectations of you, so it is worth taking time to consider just who are your Crew and what will your retirement mean to them.

Questions and Ponderings

  • In retirement, what might be your role with regard to support for your parents, children or grandchildren?
  • If you are of the “sandwich” generation then consider how full your plate might be.
  • If there are health challenges, how will you find the essence of what it is you want to do so you can adapt to circumstances?
  • What cultures are contained within your Crew’s makeup?
  • When will you want to have your morning coffee/tea?
  • Do you want to commit to caring for your grandchildren, and if so, to what extent?

Aids to Navigation 

  • Define friendship; consider who your friends, acquaintances, companions are.
  • You will be described as a “senior” in the same way as your parents—remind yourself that you are of a different generation and avoid adopting the mindset of a much older person.
  • Look at the structure that your working life imposes on your life and how that will change when you are retired.
  • What is it that you really want to do in your retirement? Once you know that, share it with others in your life.
  • Volunteering, at a club or for the family, is great but be cautious about taking on too much.
  • Consider that many who are close to you during your working life may not be part of your Crew when you retire.


Carol Baird-Krul and Enise Olding
Carol and Enise are the creators of a series of pre-retirement and post-retirement planning workshops: Transition to Retirement: The Uncharted Course©, Recently Retired: Charting a New Course© and Ideas … Enhanced and Advanced©, and authors of Transition to Retirement: The Uncharted Course.

This article is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s Mar/Apr 2011 issue.

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