Fear No More

I’m writing this post on Halloween day. Today fear is welcomed. Enjoy it while it lasts!

“The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear.”


In my readings on retirement a common pattern arises. People near to stepping outside of the work box fear it. I speak about retirement with friends, family, and people in general, all in their 50s, as part my journey to dig deeper into the subject. At some point of the conversation I always ask, what do you fear about retirement? 90% of  the time the answer relates to the word health. I must confess this response disappoints me.  Shouldn’t we be fearing being disengage with life after retirement more? When I think of the 43% of retirees who fall into depression because they lose purpose, that statistic scares me.

Taking care of pending shores and visiting new places or revisiting others gives most new retirees direction during the first years of retirement. Then the need for a higher purpose kicks in. Striving for self-fulfillment has never been as important as it is during this stage of life. What gave us purpose in the past disappears or is replaced by unfamiliar activities. Our children are gone; our identification with the job title we used to have vanishes; the network of friends reduces as we lose contact with co-workers;  and the daily stimuli from work is replaced with routines. It sounds scary. “Meaningful activity will play a huge role in your retired life. If you feel bored, depressed, or unsatisfied with what you do for large part of the day, it can take a serious toll on your physical and mental health,” says Robin Ryan author of Retirement Reinvention.

The situation begs the question, what to do?

We have worked hard to build the financial support for retirement. Our basic needs of food, water, shelter and safety should be covered by our financial retirement plan. Despite this financial effort, we know that mankind doesn’t live on bread only.

The need for achievement, independence, development of our full potential and self-actualization (full realization of one’s creative, intellectual, or social potential) requires planning as well. Fortunately, we are now 50+ and that comes with some advantages (finally, the good news!)

The pre-retirement advantage: income for experimentation.

The retirement advantage: tested plan (if we have experimented in pre-retirement), time, experience, knowledge.

With 10 years ahead of me before retiring, my goal is to experiment with options. I’m looking forward to discovering the ones that I will pursue in retirement. Fear no more! I will learn my way to a happy retirement; to a realization of my full potential. Health issues may still come but I may cheat some illnesses by keeping myself engaged with life.

“Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out.”

Karl Augustus Menninger

Ready to educate out your fear of retirement?

Conversation with Jeanette. Future Expat.

I met Jeanette at a social event this summer. Our conversation moved quickly from our professional lives to “I will retire in Mexico,” she said. I think she noticed my bewilderment after she mentioned her retirement plan. Based on OECD analysis of quality of life cities like Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver are among the 23 best places to live in. Why to move south then? I did not ask at that moment but a few days later I invited Jeanette for a coffee to learn more about this idea.

It seems she is not alone. The Expat Insider 2018 report by  InterNations indicates that “nearly a quarter of US American expats (23%) describe their current employment status as retiree.” I visited additional online resources to prepare myself for my next conversation with Jeanette. Kathleen Peddicord, author and publisher of Live and Invest Overseas, advises on the benefits of retiring abroad, while others like Chris Powers,  who runs PanamaForReal.com, has a more cautious approach.

Armed with coffees Jeanette and I started talking. “How did you decide to retire in Mexico?” I asked.

As a passionate traveller she and her husband are always organizing trips around the world. They see living in Mexico as an opportunity to continue travelling even when they start their transition to retirement. They have been influenced by Jeanette’s father-in-law’s own experience as an expat. This connection has helped them test drive the idea of living in Mexico.  She has been visiting the lake Ajijic area to experience the daily life in this community made of mainly expats. The weather, the country’s slower pace, the lifestyle, the shops and affordable health care are among the benefits she and her husband see in this option.

I must tell you, I admire these expatarees™, as I call them. I left Latin America more than 20 years ago to move to Canada. I have lived in 3 countries by now. I have experienced first hand the culture shock, the loss of a social network, the awkwardness of not knowing the language and the rules. The baby-like feeling of having to learn everything from scratch.  Would I like to start again in a new place at 64 or more? I asked myself. Jeanette’s explains me that, as a bonus, living in Mexico allows them to include more travelling in their retirement budget.

If, so far, you’re more intrigued than discouraged test drive your retirement plan as Jeanette and her husband did.

Find a culture that fits your psyche.

Rick Steves, Americans living in Europe

Time passes fast when listening to Jeanette’s plan. I want to stay longer and ask more questions but we both have busy schedules for the day. Before finishing the conversation, I asked a last question. I know she is an active member of the community who regularly works on social causes. Do you have a life purpose for your retirement? With a big smile she says, “Now we are talking!” She has visited associations in lake Ajijic to continue her social work there too. You can see that she has done her homework. She left me with one final thought, “don’t go to a place to change it,” she said. On that, I cannot agree more.

I join those that are intrigued, or cautiously intrigued rather, by the idea of becoming expatirees™. If you are too, tell us what has worked and hasn’t worked for you as you look for the next city to call home.

Let’s Flex our Creativity Muscle

For lack of a better name my retirement vision so far could be GREAT EXPECTATIONS!

“Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There’s no better rule.”

― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

When I look through the eyes of retirement I see this giant jigsaw puzzle with each piece representing my expectations. The risk with keeping the pieces too big is that I could end up with a faulty plan. These are my pieces: 

  • I expect my time to be well spent because finally I will have 24 hours a day “for me”.
  • I expect my health to carry me through reads, parties, hikes, jogs and new discovered passions.
  • I expect money to last and be able to share some.
  • I expect my soul to be full to appreciate life even more.

Some of you may have already succeeded at trying to balance all these expectations. In my case I have done some strikes in certain areas but for most I’m leaving the balancing task for later; perhaps for when I retire.

But what about this predictor of success in retirement? Create an engaging vision of your life after retirement and your chances of being happier will increase. I must find the time now! I want to create a vision that is big enough (or creative enough) to include all the expectations listed above.  As I was writing the previous sentence my mind asked, is this list of expectations creative enough?

On Creativity

I hope you are convinced that we are ALL creative. Otherwise, how to explain that you are alive in the 21st century when other species are extinct? Putting the evolution discussion aside, I do need to exercise my creativity muscle. Producing challenging goals for my retirement, as I have done for previous stages in my life, requires creative thinking.

Professor Gerard Puccio, in his course on Creative Thinking Toolkit, invites us to reinvigorate our imagination by:

  1. Pursuing what intrinsically motives you. In my case, learning new things. In my husband’s case, travelling.
  2. Applying divergent thinking or exploring multiple solutions.

I want to reinvigorate my imagination!  Like the “oh so” famous game of imagining new uses for a paper clip, so my husband and I should imagine other uses for learning and travelling. We have evidence of our love for these activities. Thus, my goal is to create a list of 50 hobbies with potential to travel and learn.

To start, I googled “hobbies after 50”. I have never thought of this hobby: horology, the art of making clocks and watches. I love wearing watches; knowing how they work seems appealing to my learning bug. I even see myself and my husband travelling to conferences to meet like-minded people.

As Dickens said “take everything on evidence.” Like an entrepreneur that validates assumptions as early as possible I must try horology before retirement. Nancy L. Anderson, contributor for Forbes, writes “Practice retirement while you are still working. In fact, making a long, drawn-out transition to retirement could actually be part of your retirement plan.”

I will keep my vision of great expectations for retirement. The pieces of my puzzle will become smaller, and with sharper edges, once I decide what solutions to try. Those solutions that I like the most will be part of my tested retirement plan.

Visit this list from Wikipedia to feed your imagination, hobby-wise.

Let us know what novel ideas you come up with to expend your retirement’s leisure time.