Book aims to answer key retirement question –What The Hell Do I Do Now

February 24, 2022

R. Dean White’s book What The Hell Do I Do Now – A Professionals’ Guide to a Meaningful Retirement is a helpful resource for any of us who thought their jobs were their lives.

Folks in this mindset, he notes, have trouble if health, changes at work, or other factors lead them to an unexpected retirement – what are they going to do?

White should know – he’s a retired oral and maxillofacial surgeon who at 55 “had to stop practicing due to a neurological disorder” that affected his hands and dexterity. He found a way to reinvent himself via a new career as a hospital administrator.  The new role, he writes, was “way out of my comfort zone of what I used to do, but I am having a great time, making a little money, and feeling like I have found relevance in a whole new way.”

The book presents a number of case histories of people who have left familiar roles and tried something different. “Retiring,” writes White, “is not about renting an office and reading The Wall Street Journal. It is about new ventures, new risks, and new goals.”

He cites a recent poll showing that “73 per cent of baby boomers plan to work in retirement” in what he calls “encore careers.” These, he explains, are those that supply “an individual with income, but more importantly, a greater meaning and a chance to have a social impact.”

If you don’t want to work for money, “volunteering can help a new retiree create balance in life,” he writes. “It can also help you find perspective.” After all, he notes, “volunteers are needed everywhere.”

Even solitude can bring new challenges, he points out.  “Use your solitude to paint, draw, and create with your hands or your head,” he explains. “I would encourage everyone to write their own life story – not necessarily for publication, but for family and friends. It sounds morbid, but everyone wants to be remembered and to influence others even after death, and spending your solitude creating this legacy can be fulfilling.”

He discusses the value of exercise as we age.  “As I got older, I started noticing that swinging the grandkids around hurt my back and my shoulder, so I reluctantly began an exercise program at a local gym,” he writes. It worked – with a strengthened core, his golf game improved and swinging the grandkids was much easier; he still hits the gym two or three times a week.

Other advice in this well-thought out book is to “keep busy and make a contribution where ever you can; keep physically fit; get a good dog; keep your self-respect; take time to relax with a good book and with good friends whenever you can,” and – one that our late father-in-law used to also say, “remember, there ain’t no bad scotch, some is just better than others.”

While the book devotes little space to money matters, White does recommend good record-keeping in one’s retirement. “It is amazing how many people don’t know what they have, and where the paperwork that is associated with what they have is located,” he observes.

“Retirement,” he concludes, “may seem like a great darkness where fear and anxiety lurk, but no one can possibly know what will happen in the next hour or the next day. Stay in the present.”

This fine book is a great addition to any retirement library.

If you’re a member of the Saskatchewan Pension Plan, getting access to your records, including tax slips, balances, and contribution details, is a breeze. Just sign up for MySPP and all your account details are just a click away. You can print off tax forms yourself, rather than waiting for them in the mail. It’s another way SPP is decluttering your retirement.

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Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

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