Time well spent

October 18, 2019 | RBC Wealth Management


Planning for a successful retirement is about more than just saving – it’s also about your state of mind.

Planning for a successful retirement is about more than just saving – it’s also about your state of mind. 

Will Rogers once said, “Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save.” While the famous humourist may have been exaggerating for effect, the fact is that Canadians today are retiring on average at 63* and yet are living longer than ever before – many into their 90s. This means retirees will increasingly experience a retirement life stage of 30+ years – often longer than many have worked.  

The 2,000-hour conundrum

While longer lifespans can be a blessing, they can also be a challenge regarding physical and psychological well-being. Many retirees are thrilled to be ending their working years and have thoroughly planned for it from a financial standpoint. However, many do not plan for a new and very real challenge: with the average Canadian working approximately 2,000 hours a year, what will they do with all that suddenly free time?

Beating the retirement blues

Soon-to-be retirees often view their retirement as a permanent vacation from work. It’s the chance to do the things they’ve always wanted to do but never had the time or opportunity to: hit the snooze button, travel the world, play endless rounds of golf, catch up on their reading list or tick the box on their various “bucket list” items. 

However, after spending the initial years of retirement occupied by fun-filled activities, many retirees must adjust their lifestyles to address health constraints or mobility issues. What’s more, many retirees begin to miss the engagement that their work life provided them, whether intellectual or social, or both. This letdown often leads to the retirement blues, or, more seriously, depression.  

A different kind of bucket list

To beat the retirement blues, retirement experts recommend the following activities for retirees:

  • Working: Working? Didn’t we just put that behind us? Yes, as counter-intuitive as it may sound, many retirees choose to work – mostly on a limited basis – not because they have to but because they enjoy it. Almost half of Canadian retirees have done some sort of post-retirement work, reporting that it provided them with purpose, social interaction – and a little extra spending money.  
  • Volunteering: Giving back to their communities or important causes is another way retirees can meaningfully fill their time. Many retirees volunteer because they can be as active as their time or health permits, and balance their volunteer work with their other retirement pursuits.
  • Lifelong learning: Going back to school to learn or complete a degree can provide retirees with a high level of engagement and mental stimulus, along with the joy of learning and the fulfillment of accomplishing a goal. New hobbies are another area of learning that can provide sustainable activity and engagement over time. 

While a fulfilling life comes in many forms, retirees who plan for the non-financial aspects of retirement can avoid the retirement blues and discover that retirement, like age, is just state of mind.

To learn more, please contact us today.


* Statistics Canada, 2015.