SUMMARY: A series of questions to help you proactively plan for the quality of life you desire in retirement.

Some people spend a lot of time and effort in saving for and planning for their financial well-being in retirement yet fail to consider other aspects of the quality of their lives. The following provides questions that can help you think about relationships and contribution, living comfortably, recreation, health and well-being.

Relationships and contribution

  • List the people you most want included in your life after retirement.
  • Beside each person’s name, write what you can contribute to their life (e.g., laughter, a meal, help around the house, etc.) and what they can contribute to your life.
  • List people that you would want to reconnect with when you have the time. This can be childhood friends, current colleagues, or distant family.
  • Consider an expanded contribution to your family – what could you do that they might benefit from (e.g., gardening, babysitting, traveling, cooking, visiting, renovations, etc.) that you might not have been able to do while working.
  • When you retire, you may both value and require the help of others in ways you had not needed before. Learning to express appreciation for this help is more likely to encourage people to continue. Different people respond to different approaches to appreciation. Think about the people closest to you and either offer or ask them which of the following approaches they would most value:
    • Gifts – money, homemade gifts, crafts, baking
    • Favours - running errands, doing chores, providing care
    • Attention – spending time talking and listening
    • Praise – saying thank you for what they have done and how it made a difference to you
    • Affection – hugging, holding hands, saying I love you
  • List skills you acquired over the years and consider how you might contribute these to volunteer activities, caregiving, mentoring, etc.

Living comfortably

  • Consider the sustainability of your current living arrangements from several perspectives such as upkeep, financial demands, physical demands, access to transportation, proximity to family and friends, access to healthcare, etc.
  • Apply well in advance if you are considering moving to a retirement residence as some have waiting lists of several years.
  • In addition to providing a sense of purpose, you may also wish to augment your income to live more comfortably. List skills you acquired over the years and consider how these might be applied to future part-time, casual or consulting work.

Recreation

  • List activities that you would find enjoyable on your own (e.g., solitaire, walking, travel, pets, etc.).
  • List activities that you would find enjoyable with others (e.g., euchre, hiking, horseback riding, etc.).
  • List activities you would find mutually enjoyable with your significant other (e.g., dancing, dining out, gardening, cycling, etc.).

Health and well-being

  • Consider what daily routines you would continue or start to ensure your ongoing physical health when you no longer have to get up to go to work every day (e.g., healthy breakfast, personal hygiene, exercise, etc.)
  • Consider what daily routines you would continue or start to ensure your ongoing mental health when you no longer have to get up to go to work every day (e.g., practice gratitude, mindfulness, puzzles, yoga, etc.)
  • Think about how you want to feel most mornings when you first awaken. This is less about writing down words as it is about imagining how you want to feel when you open your eyes each morning. It is much more likely to happen when you are aware of the specific emotion (e.g., gratefulness, joy, excitement, serenity, etc.) you desire.
  • Think about how you want to feel most evenings when you are ready to sleep. This is less about writing down words as it is about imagining how you want to feel when you close your eyes each night. It is much more likely to happen when you are aware of the specific emotion (e.g., satisfaction, peacefulness, etc.) you desire.