Retiring Well: Finding purpose requires planning!

A lot of retirement planning focuses on when — the date you plan to stop working. But retiring well requires more than just having enough money. You’ll also have to consider how — how are you planning to spend your days in retirement?

“Everyone knows what they’re retiring from, but not everyone knows what they’re retiring to,” says Dave Lee, a Senior Wealth Advisor with Scotia Wealth Management in White Rock. “Having a strong sense of purpose can lead to a happier and healthier retirement, help you be more active and socially engaged, and potentially live longer.”

Identify your passions

Some have detailed plans for retirement, whether that’s travelling, spending time with grandkids or volunteering with a charity. For those less sure, Dave has a few questions that help clients discover new possibilities.

  • What skills can you use to benefit others?
  • What gives you the greatest excitement, motivation or satisfaction?
  • Do you like new challenges, or do you prefer things that are familiar?
  • What issues in society or your community are most important to you?
  • What would you like to learn, or what existing skills would you like to improve?

“Those who’ve done some reflection and planning tend to feel more fulfilled and happy in retirement. Planning is the difference between a concrete goal and a vague dream. In my experience, people who think they’re going to dramatically improve their health or start a completely new hobby often don’t. Those who plan to put more focus on things that are already part of their life are more likely to follow through,” Dave says.

List your priorities

As a Total Wealth Planner, Dave’s work with clients always involves more than just budgets and number crunching.

“It’s important for me to understand my clients’ priorities, relationships, health and career goals so we can make a comprehensive financial plan.”

That means clients who’ve worked with Dave for many years are often more prepared for retirement — from both a financial and lifestyle perspective.

“One of the tools I utilize is a colour-coded checklist that identifies priorities. I encourage individuals and couples to set aside some time with their preferred beverage in hand, and reflect on their options. Couples should fill out the checklist separately, and then come together to find out which values they share.”

What values are most pertinent to your current life, and to your retirement? Travel? Financial security in the event of an illness? Family? Dave can dive deeper into planning once he understands your priorities.

Retiring ‘cold turkey’

Retiring completely in a single day is much less common than it used to be, and this is largely a healthy change. There are many strategies for transitioning to retirement that can be more successful financially, relationally and for mental health.

“You may be done with 60-hour work weeks, but you could still have enthusiasm for consulting, volunteering or other commitments. If all you’ve thought about is the day you can retire, let me challenge you to consider a vision for something more compelling and more rewarding.”

Dave Lee CIM, CFP, FCSI is a Senior Wealth Advisor with Scotia Wealth Management in White Rock. He can be reached at or 604.535.4743.

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ScotiaMcLeod, a division of Scotia Capital Inc.

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