Rethinking Retirement from a Retirement Coach

September 25, 2023 | Metkel Kebede


Approaching Retirement, or being Retired requires thoughtful planning. Often we ask, what was it all for? Where do I go from here?

Below are great insights from Retirement Coach Mike Worsfold.


Reframing the Meaning of Retirement – from a Retirement Coach


Most people think of retirement is the reward for a lifetime of work and parenting.

The traditional narrative for retirement is oriented towards seeking pleasure: Travel, hobbies, unlimited golf, long walks, time for family and friends, and so on. It’s like a long vacation. Ads show the happy retired couple with palm trees in the background. It’s the story of the good life.


The problem is that for people who have a lifetime of conditioning of work and responsibility, retirement may feel like living in a vacuum. Long vacations drag. After a few days of rest many people are itching to get back to work. Their nervous systems are geared to a certain degree of healthy stress from working towards accomplishing tasks, meetings and projects to complete. They miss it, or at least part of it.


A couple of stories:

“I failed retirement.” My client sold his business for $20M and took off for Spain. It was his dream to retire to Spain. Eight months later, out of the blue, he called me. I was surprised to hear that he was back in Canada. “I failed retirement”, he declared. I laughed. I’d never heard those words before. “So now what?” I asked. “I’m starting a new company, and I'd like you to help me.” Music to my ears at that point.

“Worst mistake I ever made.” That’s what a friend of mine blurted out last summer when I told him about The New Retirement Project. He’d been a very successful businessman. Money was not a problem. He could do whatever he wanted. Sadly, retirement had resulted in deep depression for him. Apparently with more time to think, early childhood trauma issues had come back up. World travels hadn’t helped. His doctor had prescribed antidepressants that were so strong he couldn’t function properly.


A breakthrough occurred: He’d enrolled in a short course on ‘How to Write Your Autobiography’. Even though he was still foggy, he said, he’d gotten excited about writing his life story. His first action was to get his dosage reduced. His next was to hire the program teacher to come to his home and help him get started. He proudly told me that he’d written five hundred pages. He’d found the experience liberating. Psychologists suggest that we need to embrace our trauma not repress it or just sedate it. My friend’s autobiography will likely never be in print, but what a gift to himself and to his family.


Old Retirement is about seeking pleasure. It turns out many people miss responsibility.

New Retirement is about seeking purpose. That includes responsibility. Pleasure becomes the by-product, not the goal.


New Retirement is a new beginning full of opportunities for personal growth and make the world better in some way.

I was sitting with a retired engineer recently. He seemed very contented. A nice place to be. “What’s up?” I asked. “Oh I was just thinking about yesterday”, he said. I visited my sister and did a few home repair jobs for her. It felt pretty good. I should do it more often.”

One thing’s for sure. My friend was not bored!


New Retirement Blog is written by Michael Worsfold,

developer of the  New Retirement Project.


For more information go to


Please stay tuned for additional Blogs to help with your thought process around “Retirement” and what it can mean.

Part of our “Do Something Different” Series