The book Not Fade Away by Celia Dodd is a retirement book that’s not brimming with charts and tables and heavy investment advice. This well-written and thoughtful book focuses more on the key decisions you’ll face on the road to your own retirement plan.
Retirement, she writes, can be hard for many of us, like leaving home, we are leaving work for perhaps the first time. “Why do people feel lost, overwhelmed, and even depressed without it? It’s almost as if we are addicted to work… work is such a big part of our lives for such a long time that it’s hard to leave it behind,” Dodd notes.
She provides a list of the things we worry about when thinking of retirement:
- Relationship with partner
- Loss of identity/self-esteem/confidence
- Boredom and lack of purpose
- Lack of structure
- Loss of skills (because they are not being used)
With those thoughts in mind, Dodd points out that retirement is not like an on-off switch; there are several ways to approach it. There’s the traditional “cliff edge” approach, full retirement from all work; there is “phased retirement through a reduced workload with your existing employer,” or “phased retirement through new part-time work or becoming self-employed.”
All these roads (for many of us) eventually lead to full retirement – no work at all. Dodd advises us to try and “think about what an average weekday (in retirement) would ideally be like once the honeymoon period is over.” Jot this down, she says, and be specific.
Think about how you handled “previous transitions in your life,” or how you spent any really long holidays.
“Think about what you’re going to miss most about work and how you might recreate it: water cooler moments? Mental challenge? Working in a team? Commuting?” Dodd assures us that some people actually do miss the trip to work.
Take note of the things you enjoy both at work and in your spare time, talk to retired friends, and if you’re planning to volunteer or start a business, find out “what skills and qualifications you might need,” she writes, adding that we should also consider “untravelled roads,” things we once liked to do, or wanted to do, but aren’t doing.
When you are more separated from full-time work, Dodd writes, consider the “ingredients for fulfillment” in life, such as “activities that nurture you: walking, listening to or playing music and practising yoga.”
It’s important to meet up with old friends, she writes, but as important to meet new ones, “and take part in activities in a group.”
Ideally you should find activities you can “lose yourself in,” keep your brain sharp, stay challenged, have a sense of achievement, and “an overarching sense of purpose – long-term goals that incorporate short-term goals.”
The book offers many more thought-provoking ideas, including some basic tips about retirement income, such as making sure you are getting correctly taxed, breaking habits (like being generous) if you can no longer afford them, and to spend money “on experiences and socializing rather than material possessions.”
When this writer was planning to leave full-time work, it was very difficult to imagine what it would be like on the other side of the fence. This book is about as good as it gets when it comes to answering that question – and makes the point that there’s no such thing as a cookie cutter retirement, that it’s not always all about money, and that your own unique circumstances will define your retirement. Definitely worth a read!
No matter how your retirement unfolds, having a little more retirement income will be handy. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan can be part of your retirement income plan. You can contribute up to $6,300 per year to the plan, and expert investors will grow it for you at an extremely competitive low rate. When it’s time to fully or partially leave the workforce, those invested contributions can be converted to a lifetime income stream via SPP annuities. Take a minute to check it out on SPP’s website today.
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.