A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Retirement

Fall 2000 CSANews Issue 36  |  Posted date : Mar 06, 2007.Back to list

Lifestyle and Retirement Planning speaker Barry LaValley is a 40-something aging baby boomer caught in the struggle between remembering the Beatles and wondering about retirement. "I feel like a young man trapped in a middle-aged life. Where did the time go?" he asks. "Don't get me wrong, I like being the age that I am. I'm just not ready to be my parents yet."

Like many of his generation, LaValley is looking at the next stage of his life and has decided to make a plan. Not a retirement plan, but a lifestyle plan.

"People today are much more active than 25 years ago. They are taking a completely different view on life and retirement than their parents. Not only are we much more active in our daily lives, but technology has radically changed our relationship to the workplace."

That means that the traditional view on retirement and its association with "old age" is no longer valid. Retirement today has been redefined to mean "the next stage of your life."

LaValley's retirement plan has changed to planning for the next stage of his life. That next stage may include a second career or an at-home business. In his case, it does not mean trying to figure out how to never work again.

"The whole relationship between my financial plan and my retirement plan has changed for me," he says. "I am now looking at how I can best use the money that I have set aside for the future to really enjoy the life that I want and to do what I want."

He recommends that people consider eight different areas of their lives as they plan for the future.
  1. Time Management, or how to keep structure in your life if and when you leave the traditional workplace. "One of the big stresses that affect people when they leave the traditional workplace is the lack of structure that suddenly appears. We've always had to be someplace and be on a schedule. All of a sudden, we don't particularly have to be anywhere. Therefore, we have to develop an internal mechanism to create the structure that we all need to run our lives."
  2. The relationship between your money and your life. "It's not what money is, but what money does. I've consulted with people who had done all of the right things financially with their RRSPs, and yet had no idea how to use their money to enjoy their lives."
  3. Activities and Hobbies. "People really need to identify what it is that they like to do and then figure out how to free up the time to do it. While in retirement, some people have plenty of time, but no priority as to the things that they want to do." LaValley recommends a simple exercise involving writing down the 10 things that you like to do most in life, and also writing down the date that you last did them. "A lot of people are really surprised that they haven't spent a lot of time in their lives doing the things that they like to do. In the next stage of their lives, they have an opportunity to fix that."
  4. Home and where you want to live. "A lot of people have dreams about where they want to live in the next stage, but no plan to make that happen." LaValley suggests that his clients come to a clear understanding of how they feel about the location in which they live. "Decide what your dream is and then build a plan to make it happen, even if your time horizon is farther away."
  5. Friends and Socialization. LaValley notes that many of our relationships have been formed in the workplace and don't tend to transfer when we leave. "As we get older, our social relationships increase in importance and it is important to begin to build them to survive the workplace."
  6. Healthy Aging. "One of the saddest things that I see is people who are doing very well financially and still have the desire to enjoy their lives, but have lost their health." He notes that there are some things relating to our health that we cannot control. However, "your plan for the next stage of your life has to include some thought on how you can feel as good as you can physically to really start to enjoy yourself."
  7. Family. LaValley notes that many retirement plans are not family plans. "A lot of times I see couples who have never talked to each other about their plans for the future. It is very important to put together a family lifestyle plan that works for everyone."
  8. Spirituality. "One of the keys to building a life plan to help us enjoy the next stage is to truly understand who
we are as people," he says.

Barry LaValley started out building a traditional retirement plan. He ended up developing a life plan that really doesn't have anything to do with traditional retirement. He can still enjoy the Beatles, still work and never feel old. The next stage of his life now involves counselling others on how to do the same.