Apr 15: Life After Work – book explores the adventures free time can bring

April 15, 2024

It’s always very difficult for those of us who are in the working world to truly envision what retirement will be like. It’s like some sort of alternate universe, or at least, it seems that way.

Life After Work by P. Alexander provides a thought-provoking, detailed, and clear look into how your future could unfold. While it is intended for a U.S. readership, the fundamental concepts in the work are of interest to a broader audience.

Alexander begins by describing retirement “as a juncture in life that beckons with the promise of freedom and newfound adventures,” warning that it “can also stir up a whirlwind of emotions, leaving us grappling with uncertainties and insecurities.”

But, Alexander reassures us, “retirement is not a destination; it’s the beginning of a grand adventure, a blank canvas waiting for you to paint with the vibrant colours of your dreams and desires.” It’s a phase where you “have the privilege of redefining life on your own terms, unburdened by the constraints of a structured workday.”

Alexander stresses the importance of “staying active and fit” in retirement. “One of the most common mistakes that retirees make is to just kick back, relax, and forget about the world,” which, while fun, “can lead to significant cognitive decline.”

Alexander calls staying physically active “vital… and also a potent tool for keeping your mind sharp.” Similarly, keeping up with the housework is “conducive to mental clarity… household chores offer a sense of accomplishment and a visually pleasing environment.” Other recommendations for staying active and fit include “developing a green thumb,” and “refining your eating habits.” Set priorities around family time, which can bring “joy and emotional well-being,” the book advises.

After a chapter on tweaking your wardrobe for your new retirement lifestyle and “look,” the book talks about the importance of having routines in retirement.

“Freedom is great, but it can lose its novelty once you run out of things to do,” warns Alexander. “This is where a routine can serve as a comforting and stabilizing force…. (it) can provide structure, maintain your health and well-being, and ensure you make the most of your time.”

In a chapter discussing retirement goals, such as well-being and health, social connections, and personal growth and learning, Alexander expands on the importance of having a sense of purpose.

“Our sense of agency and utility relies on having a sense of purpose, and that’s something that passion contributes to,” Alexander explains. “Passion gives you a reason to wake up in the morning with enthusiasm and excitement. Retirement can sometimes bring a loss of purpose for those who were deeply committed to their careers. Reigniting old passions or discovering new ones can reignite that sense of direction and fulfillment.”

A later chapter in the book looks at how you can set up your own “bucket list” of “aspirations and experiences you wish to accomplish during your lifetime.” Consider your passions – “activities, experiences or places that have always intrigued you” in setting up a list that you can “devote your energy and time to.”

At the end of a chapter on the importance of developing a social network in retirement (to replace the one you had at work), Alexander writes that “it is always possible to forge meaningful connections in your retirement years… with the right mindset and a dash of proactive spirit, you can have a vibrant social life that enhances your retirement journey.”

There’s a helpful chapter on budgeting – figuring out your sources of retirement income and balancing that out against your expenses. That can help you understand how much you need to save for retirement, Alexander writes.

“The sooner you start saving for retirement, the more time your investments have to grow. Understanding your timeline is crucial for setting realistic goals.”

This fact-laden book is a great read for anyone gearing up for life beyond work.

“Planning can be your essential best friend,” Alexander concludes. “Create a roadmap for your retirement that aligns with your dreams and values. This is the best way to make the most out of the next phase of your life.”

As the book suggests, if you haven’t already started saving for retirement, there’s still time to get rolling. If you’re saving on your own for life after work, consider enlisting the help of the Saskatchewan Pension Plan (www.saskpension.com). SPP has been securing retirement for Canadians for more than 35 years.

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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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