Survey responses to question 2 – what do you wish you had known?

Reflections of a retirement coachRetirement Stats, Studies, and Stuff


By Mariella Vigneux, MBA, ACC
Certified Professional Coach


In the last issue of this newsletter, we reported your answers to Question 1 of a four-question survey, the question focusing on the joys of retirement.  In this article, you’ll find your answers to Question 2, which asked about the challenges, pitfalls, and unpleasant surprises of retirement.

Your responses to Question 2 were quite varied, with valuable insights drawn from challenging times.  Although not all of you faced pitfalls, many of you talked about the trials of unfettered freedom; searching for who you are in retirement, now that the title is gone; finding purpose in your days; being suddenly without your spouse; adjusting to a fixed income; holding onto ‘me’ time instead of giving it to others; and balancing laziness with more industrious pursuits.  For those of you planning retirement, here is a wealth of knowledge from those who’ve experienced retirement.

The second survey question was worded this way:

Retirement Challenges: In hindsight, what do you wish you had known about retirement before you retired, e.g., challenges, pitfalls, unpleasant surprises? 

 Here are the responses:

  1. I wish I had known that going from a demanding job to unfettered freedom was going to take some time in figuring out the balance between routine and adventure. I might not have felt so guilty about why it was taking me so long to sort it out or making the choices I did.
  1. In hindsight, I’m aware of freedoms I neglected to exercise in my workplace. As an academic I generally wrote within the confines of my discipline. Retirement and the long perspective it permitted to review my life and choices allowed me to see that I might have taken even more control over how I spent my energy and my one and only life.
  1. My retirement was a forced one with a change in health. The biggest challenges that has resulted is learning to live with a significantly lower income than I had been when working. In hindsight, I could have more of a practice of saving money than I did when working.
  1. Surprise! No surprises.
  1. Would have simplified my paperwork more and earlier, and kept LESS STUFF.
  1. Taking the time, while I was still working, to organize electronic files and contacts for use in retirement. Big picture – figuring out who I am now that I don’t have a title and allowing myself to feel, question and be curious. Getting more comfortable with being uncomfortable at times as I wayfind.
  1. Boredom, despite having lots to do
  1. Pitfalls? None so far. Perhaps the only challenge has been allowing myself to not be busy, to not be productive at all times, and to enjoy the stillness guilt-free.
  1. Not so far.
  1. Retirement is not for the faint of heart. The complete change of lifestyle is not as “golden” as it’s made out to be. I sometimes find it a challenge to find meaning in my days. I sometimes wonder about the purpose of my life now that I’m retired.
  1. I never thought I would face retirement without my spouse of 40 years. His death left a huge hole in my life.
  1. I wish I would have known that I would move to a new home shortly after retirement.
  1. Reassurance that there would be enough $ for a comfortable retirement.
  1. I should have realized that a “leopard doesn’t change its spots”. I am now the same person I was prior to retirement. I feel that I had unreal expectations about what I would do once retired.
  1. The maximum imposed on pension transfers to LIRA’s.
  1. I am learning to be satisfied with contributing less to the lives of others. After working at an intense pace for several years in the field of service to others I am learning to reframe my definition of satisfaction.
  1. I had to learn how to budget money when in fact there was no money coming in. I have an RRSP and income from an investment property and other investments but no salary or pension yet. Once I figured out that what I had planned for retirement in terms of my budget was in fact what it was and not much more I relaxed. Getting in shape for lack of a better term has gone more slowly than I feel it should have. I hate exercise so started walking which I can handle. I am not a gym type person so look forward to expanding my exercise a bit, not too much and seeing results. My calves are starting to change shape and I think that is a good thing.
  1. Working friends and family think you have all kinds of time to run errands for them.
  1. You are more in charge of your time so it is easy to be lazy. On the other hand, a lazy day can be a good thing.


In the next newsletter, we’ll share the answers to the third question:

Relationship Changes: If you have a partner, how did retirement affect your relationship, both for better and for worse? 

 If you’d like to see the survey, go to Your thoughts on retirement: four questions for you. There is still time to answer the questions.

Thanks to all of you who took time to share your retirement experiences with everyone.

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