September 16, 2012

By Dave Dineen,

Since retiring, I’m a changed person. My friends and family tell me so.

But some days, it doesn’t feel like I’m adapting well enough to retirement. Maybe I need something few people actually get: off-the-job training to help me have the best retirement I can have.

The changes I’ve experienced in the past year-and-a-half have been dramatic.

Some of early retirement’s biggest changes

  • How I define who I am: I don’t think of myself as primarily a market researcher or a marketing guy anymore. But who am I now? I don’t have a crisp answer.
  • What my priorities are: I no longer have a job description that prioritizes what I do for 50 or 60 hours a week. But what should I devote my time and talents to now?
  • My daily routines: For decades, my early-to-bed-and-early-to-rise routine created the structure for my day. In contrast, I’ve set my alarm only three times in the past year.
  • My sense of time: I’m always aware of the date, but the days of the week are now so undifferentiated that I generally don’t bother to keep track (is tomorrow Wednesday?). And a two-week vacation now seems like a scarcity of time, rather than a luxury.
  • My relationships: Many relationships in the workplace are a mile wide and an inch deep. Naturally, some of those inch-deep relationships have evaporated since I left work. But the bigger change is how much deeper my personal relationships have grown. As the excellent book, “What Color is My Parachute For Retirement?” says, a marriage of newly retired people is like a “marriage on steroids,” because you’re seeing so much more of your partner.

Fyodor Dostoevsky said, “The second half of a man’s life is made up of nothing but the habits he has acquired during the first half.” It doesn’t have to be that way. I’m breaking long-held habits and – to some degree – creating a retirement that is pretty different from my earlier life.

Caution: Life-changing decisions ahead

Unless I’m going to be content with a rudderless, haphazard retirement, I’ve still got life-changing decisions to make. Those decisions can lead to a fulfilling retirement, a boring existence, part-time work, rewarding voluntarism or other alternatives.

But where do you get off-the-job training that helps you learn how to come up with the right answers for you?

Retirement planning isn’t just financial planning

My local library is a good source of books on retirement planning. Some focus on just one aspect of retirement, but some (like the one I mentioned earlier) can help you shape your thinking on several:

  1. Your happiness: Understand what really makes you happy, then focus your energies, money and time on those things. Men seem to find this especially difficult. I sure do.
  2. Your finances: This area is not as complex as most people think, but it’s not straightforward, either. And because living off of your savings/pension is entirely different from how you handled your finances during your working years, even past success in managing your money is no guarantee of success now.
  3. Your health: We live in an age of information overload and action-scarcity. Studies such as Sun Life’s Canadian Health Index show that far too many Canadians don’t think they can proactively manage their health. Though I’m a former fitness instructor and helped create the Canadian Health Index, I find that my wife has a much better understanding of healthy living and making healthy choices.

I’m self-educating

Some suppliers of holistic retirement planning services offer group seminars, one-to-one workshops, or guidance for couples. They’re not often offered in the workplace, though some unions do sponsor them.

As for me, I’m doing most of my off-the-job training by reading online or at my local library. Here are some sources I’ve used. Let me know of others you have found useful.


  • Stayin’ Alive: How Canadian Baby Boomers Will Work, Play and Find Meaning in the Second Half of Their Adult Lives, by Michael Adams
  • Hamlet’s BlackBerry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age, by William Powers
  • Who’s in Charge? Free Will and the Science of the Brain, by Michael S. Gazzaniga


  • Jonathan Chevreau, writing for Wealthy Boomer and MoneySense
  • Rob Carrick’s Reader
  • The Wealthy Barber Returns, by David Chilton
  • Your Retirement Income Blueprint, by Daryl Diamond
  • The Complete Guide to RRIFs & LIFs, by David Tafler and Gordon Pape
  • Rob Carrick’s Guide to What’s Good, Bad and Downright Awful in Canadian Investments Today, by Rob Carrick
  • Pensionize Your Nest Egg: How to Use Product Allocation to Create a Guaranteed Income For Life, by Moshe A. Milevsky and Alexandra C. Macqueen
  • Money Logic, by Moshe Milevsky
  • Wealth Planning Strategies for Canadians, 2012, by Christine Van Cauwenberghe


  • Globe Life: Health & Fitness
  • Never Say Die: The Myth and Marketing of the New Old Age, by Susan Jacoby
  • Cross-Training for Dummies, by Terry Ryan and Martica Heaner
  • In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan

Holistic retirement information

  • The Canadian Retirement Guide: A Comprehensive Handbook on Aging, Retirement, Caregiving and Health, by Jill O’Donnell, Graham McWaters and John A. Page
  • The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing, by Bronnie Ware
  • The Everything Retirement Planning Book, by Judith B. Harrington and Stanley J. Steinberg

Original source: Maybe I need off-the-job training

Written by Dave Dineen for© Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, 2012

September 16, 2012

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