Retirement Advice Isn’t Always Right

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I think the experts have it wrong. There’s so much retirement advice that focusses on what one should DO before one retires. I think more emphasis should be about WHO YOU SHOULD BE. Let me explain.

The Experts

Experts say you need to think about how you will fill up your extra time, how you’ll prevent boredom. They often say you need hobbies before you retire so you can continue these IN retirement. The problem is, while working, most people are working so hard at their jobs and with their families that they don’t have enough time to spend ON their hobbies. Some just don’t have balance in their lives. (What the heck is balance anyways?!)

And if you do have a hobby, like golfing, sorry to tell you but in retirement you won’t be golfing 24 hours a day and who knows if you’ll be golfing when you’re 95! (Granted, my aunt who is 96 IS still golfing!)

Sure, you could have hobbies like I did (running, biking, travelling) but I don’t think these made the difference. I believe there was ONE quality that made the transition much easier.

Retirement Advice: Ecole des Trois Ponts Language and Cooking School
Ecole des Trois Ponts Language and Cooking School

I LOVE TO LEARN

[and even better in France]

In the education field we keep talking about the importance of nurturing lifelong learners. Now I REALLY know why this is important….it’s not just for one’s working life, but especially for retirement.

My Journey

So how does having a craving to learn make a difference? I am incredibly busy (and happy).  Since retiring I have learned either on my own, from other people, through podcasts, or through courses on such things as how to code, use WordPress, plugins and Google Analytics.

I’ve spent time trying to improve my French and writing and now have a whole new vocabulary. It’s no longer IEP, IPRC, TPA, LTO, EQAO and exemplars, but rather, HTML, CSS, SEO, FTP, jQuery, WHOIS, MOZ, hashtags, pageviews, plugins, and Klout!

Retirement Advice: codingThe world becomes your oyster as they say when you have a deep desire to learn. I become interested in something new, do Google searches and just LEARN all I can about the subject. Often it’s to fix a problem. [I’ve become the ‘computer help desk’ to friends and family].

Other times I’ll find myself “down the rabbit hole”. Once I decided I wanted to ensure my website wasn’t too slow. An innocent enough problem to solve, right? Then the rabbit hole suddenly opened up I fell in and had to learn more about Pingdom, photo optimization, and browser caching. WHAT?!

Preparing For Retirement

How should YOU prepare for retirement? Become a lifelong learner. Get into the habit of ‘being curious’ and if something interests you, pursue it or at least put the idea on a bookshelf for future investigation.

Retirement advice: French books
Some of Jan’s books about France

I think subconsciously I did this and was always intrigued about computers, writing, and new places in France. For those interested in learning new things about France here are a few suggestions:

Yes, I had (have) a bucket list and this has helped. Who would have guessed that all this new learning  would have lead to a website about France? to meeting new people through TBEX. website workshops, and Facebook?

If you have this desire to learn, you’ll never be bored in retirement!

You might also like to read my post Career Mistakes And Escaping To France

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36 Comments

  1. I just finished listening to your interview on “Join Us In France.” I too love France–even though I’ve only been to Paris one time. I was super fortunate in 2011 to have won a trip from Rick Steves. I know you and Annie mentioned him in your interview. Of course, I did all of the regular tourist things, but they were awesome! I loved Paris and will definitely return ASAP! I love your thoughts on “retirement.” I believe this is a time of reinvention and another phase in how to enjoy living a life you really love living! I’ll spend some time perusing your website and dreaming of my next visit!

  2. This is absolutely wonderful advice for anyone heading toward retirement. My favorite thing about writing posts for my local travel blog is that it gives me a chance to learn all kinds of quirky and interesting details about the places around me. I can definitely relate to your comment about heading down the rabbit hole; funny how one set of tips can lead you into a multi-hour learning spree. Great post!

  3. I agree that being a lifelong leaner and a willingness to pursue something new or different is good preparation for retirement. There may be something you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time. You may be able to pursue it once you retire if you are willing to learn. You cannot completely predict how you will feel and react to retirement – a willingness to learn helps you shape and reinvent your life retired or not. And there is so much to learn – we can also find something new. I also think people who volunteer and help others, especially with something they feel passionate about, have a more fulfilling retirement.

    1. You’re so right about not being able to predict how you will feel and react. I feel so blessed things have turned out OK for me. I had heard some sad stories about people not coping well in retirement.

  4. Great post! I couldn’t agree more!! Learning something new (although frustrating sometimes, can I mention how what you should do,to improve your website following seems to change daily!) definitely keeps you going and your mind young. Thanks for your insights Jan!

  5. Hi Jan, so agree with you. We are always told do this, try that, think about the other, and when we hit retirement age we may not even be able to do half the things we hoped for – or even want to. The trick is as you say to nurture great curiosity and be willing and eager to learn – then if one door closes, you’re bound to find another.

    1. Love your analogy about doors opening. So many things “opened up” once I retired. It’s been really exciting.

  6. I think you’re right – people who think they are going to ‘start’ doing something in retirement that they’ve never done before in their lives is unlikely. But if you are curious, that doesn’t change. I’ve always said that potential for growth is the greatest attribute in a partner, too! 🙂

  7. The problem with retirement advice is we’re all different. The things you’re doing would not work for me- but clearly are great for you. I’m never board so retirement isn’t an issue. Also being mostly self-employed for decades is way different then leaving a job. My time has rarely had a nine-to-five structure. For some people the hobby route does work. I have a friend that’s retired and lives in a retirement community in AZ Wouldn’t work for me but she loves all the activities that are available and has a ton of friends from the community. Different strokes!

  8. Love this post Jan. Our big joke now is that we can’t imagine how we ever fit work and our careers into our busy lives! I love the fact that we learn at least one thing new every day and almost always have the opportunity to meet new people. And I certainly know the feeling of falling down a rabbit hole when pursuing a question or problem solving. Isn’t it awesome that, as retirees, we have to gift of time to reinvent ourselves as well as
    pursue and find our interests?

  9. I’m not anywhere near retirement yet and I’ve also heard so many advice from all over. I guess I’ll just have to wait until that time to really think about it, though I am thankful for your advice. I do believe that everyone’s path is different and no expert can predict and tell you everything you need to know about YOUR LIFE.

  10. SO true! I lost my job at the height (depth?) of the recession and wasn’t able to get another one in my field. I “reinvented” myself as a travel blogger and writer and made a completely different life for myself that I love. I never thought of my love of travel as my “hobby” but it’s always been my passion and being able to do it all year round is such a treat. And, like you, I’ve learned skills I never expected to learn and have enjoyed (most of) the process.

  11. I am totally in agreement with you Jan, and whoever chose the word retirement should find another one! I can’t imagine ever having a lack of things that I want to fill my day. Taking on a blog just a short time ago (I suppose you could call it Act III) I know I will always be learning and challenged.

  12. Loved this post as I also come from the world of education where we preached ‘lifelong learning’ and now have the chance to practice what I preach. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to read all the books that are waiting, the classes that need to be enrolled in and the outings that need to be taken. This post says it all!

  13. I’ve got a whole range of books that I’ve not been able to read because of the shortage of time. So I cracked a joke recently about not being able to read as much as I’d love to and how I’m saving them for my retirement.

    Although I haven’t reached that stage yet, I know we all must have a work-life balance. I’m looking forward to returning to coding when I retire, if the interest is still in me. Boredom will set in if we don’t have hobbies. Interesting post!

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