Kitchener — In Sarah McCullough’s 20 years as a retirement planner, she’s seen people in her Kitchener office start crying emotionally at the thought of retirement.
Her job is not only to comfort them, but to ease the loneliness many feel in retirement.
“Some people associate the idea of retirement with sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch. I really don’t know if it will be,” McCullough said.
Toronto-based author Mike Druck believes the conventional mindset of stopping work completely needs to change.
Drak, 68, has experienced his own retirement shock.
Although he was financially well off, he was ill-prepared for the loneliness and apathy he felt after retiring in 2014 after 38 years in the financial services industry.
Drak remembers wanting nothing more than to sit on the couch and mop.
“I couldn’t understand why I was feeling that way,” he said.
It took him years to retire and establish his new lifestyle, but Drak says he couldn’t be happier.
“Everybody thinks that I should be the happiest person in the world because I don’t have to work anymore, but I didn’t,” he said.
“When you retire, you lose your sense of purpose. You have to find a new source of purpose,” he said.
It drives him crazy when people say he’s “retired,” he said. he writes he teaches he goes fishing
Last September, Drak published his second book on retirement, Longevity Lifestyle by Design: Re-defining What Retirement Can Be. It details what he learned from his retirement experience and how he shaped the life he has today.
The book’s author is listed as “and friends” of Drak. His one of those friends is Simon Chan, who worked in financial services at Manulife in Kitchener.
While helping companies with their employees’ retirement savings plans, Chan realized something was wrong.
“They[companies]talked a lot about just the financial side, like how much you need to save for retirement,” Chan said.
“‘What are you going to do when you retire?’
Discussions about retirement need to extend beyond financial planning to planning other aspects of life, such as how people find a sense of purpose after work, Chan said.
These questions swirled in Chan’s mind in 2017 when he was also looking for a job. Then he stumbled upon his first Drak book, Victory Lap Retirement: Work While You Play, Play While You Work.
Chan wanted to continue the conversation with Drak himself and contacted him. A friendship grew from there.
The two talked about retirement one after another, and Drak told Chan his story.
The two agreed that something needed to change.
“When I ask[pre-retirement people]what they plan to do, they say, ‘I’m going to play golf, I’m going to travel.’ Well, you can only play golf and travel for that long, right?” said.
While financial planning for retirement is important, Chan said retirees should also focus on finding purpose and spending the rest of their lives meaningfully.
Your retirement plan should include questions such as: What do you want more? What can you do with the money you save?
McCullough works to address these questions in the retirement plans he creates with his clients.
When clients work with financial planners, these post-work day-to-day issues are rarely considered, McCullough said.
According to McCullough, clients who know their finances are often the ones who lose the most.
“A lot of times, in these retirement predictions, they stop at the money. They stop at the numbers. People aren’t so clear about what they can do with it.
The key question isn’t how much money you’ll have when you retire, but how you’ll spend it, says McCullough.
However, she admitted that not everyone can retire in the same way, or not at all.
Young people need to be aware of how their current spending impacts their retirement plans and make choices to maintain financial stability and flexibility.
Chan believes banks, businesses and community organizations need to work together to reshape the retirement conversation and retain employees planning to retire.
“If an organization were able to design arrangements that would allow them to retain that person, but for example, 10 to 15 hours per week or on project-based terms. This would have been a win-win.” Chan said.
Employers don’t lose the knowledge retirees have when they retire, and retirees can continue to find meaning through their work, he said.
“The person is now finding some kind of purpose and meaningful connection,” Chan said.
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