The Retirement Milestone

By Ennio Vita-Finzi

Younger readers of this article who have already celebrated “big” birthdays – their 30th, 40th or even 50th – have not yet known the momentary panic they will experience when the fast-approaching 65th milestone suddenly reaches their subconscious.

Most of today’s seniors have lived their lives convinced that on their 65th birthday their lives would change. After many years in a company, employees have always believed that when they retired at 65 their colleagues would make some amusing comments at the office party, and the boss would present a corporate gift. Less fortunate ones with little tenure simply would pack their personal belongings in a box and quietly shuffle out. In comparison, perennial job-jumpers who re-started their careers several times, would probably just shrug and look for new work.

When a person realises that retirement is approaching, for a gut-wrenching moment everyone asks: What am I going to do now?

As an individual who has gone through that life-changing moment and since I have access to many seniors in the residence where I live, I decided to do an informal survey of others who have experienced that question. Here are some of their stories

Stories

A retired executive secretary, accustomed to summarising management meetings and renowned for her transcribing skills, is now offering her note-taking ability to seniors in a retirement complex to write their life stories.

A chartered accountant advertises his fiscal and tax return expertise on supermarket notice boards in his neighbourhood and gets many interested calls.

A certified English-French translator has offered her professional services as a part-time reviser to smaller translation bureaus who need experienced people at odd times.

A retired banker who played the piano in an amateur group visits three Seniors’ complexes where he leads elderly gets tenants in sing-alongs.

A former international executive submitted an article with his opinions on Canada’s international trade to 20 business magazines and got one interested reply. He now writes a monthly column.

The retired owner of a donut franchise made a batch of cookies for her neighbour’s children one day. Word spread and she now receives regular orders and plans to hire an assistant.

A former senior executive is now on call to chair business meetings where expertise in coordinating and managing meetings is required.

A retired and distinguished-looking restauranteur is now the popular weekend Maitre D’ at a high-end restaurant near his home.

An ex-commercial artist now runs an increasingly popular weekly art class in the retirement home he lives in.

A former self-made consultant who started four successful service companies during his lifetime now mentors new entrepreneurs at the local Chamber of Commerce.

A seasoned travel agent offers her expertise in Caribbean destinations to a Travel Agent in her neighbourhood.

An experienced employee of a downtown Liquor Commission now offers wine-tasting courses online. He is unable to keep up with the demand.

Concerns

While most of these folks were assured a retirement income that would keep them from worrying about expenses, they all said that their main goal was to keep their minds active and busy.

The other worry they all had was related to developing a routine. After a lifetime of responsibilities imposed by others, they knew that the need to follow a schedule, regardless of how limited, would keep them happy and fulfilled.

Surprisingly, they all knew former colleagues who, when asked what their future plans were, had dreamt of happily “doing nothing” or just “going fishing”. Most had either died a few months after retiring or were diagnosed with an incapacitating illness.

Seniors’ advice

When I asked them for their best advice, in one way or another they all mentioned the following points: (1) Keep yourself busy, ideally doing something that makes you happy while simultaneously helping others in some way, (2) Establish a routine or regular schedule for yourself so that you always have that goal in mind, (3) Share these thoughts with other seniors in order to help them live even longer and more fruitful lives.

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