What’s Your Plan?
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What’s Your Plan?
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What’s Your Plan?

I started working at the age of twelve, babysitting for the neighbours. The kids were always really well behaved, and I was well paid so it didn’t come as a hardship to be working most Friday and Saturday nights. Within a couple of years I also added cleaning houses to my repertoire of handy services to offer the neighbours. I always refer to housekeeping as the family business, since my grandmother and great aunts along with my great grandmother cleaned houses for the British aristocracy at one time.

As a young adult I joined a military band and spent several years in the army, and I continued to do housekeeping on the side. When I entered the corporate workforce I wrote resumes, articles, and short stories on the side. The reality is that I was often doing something more than one full time job in order to earn enough money to get by and have a little to save. Once I became a single parent there was nothing left to save except what my employer took as mandatory deductions because every additional dime that I had was earmarked for something. The need for money led to me ignoring things I really enjoy, like taking regular walks, entertaining family and friends, curling up with a good novel, or going out on a date with someone I could consider growing old with.

I kept telling myself, I’d get to those things later. And now I’ve reached my 50th birthday milestone, and later has arrived, so it’s really time to talk about it.

This year I went on a holiday for the first time in more than ten years. Ireland was amazing. The people were welcoming, the countryside was charming, and the food was absolutely wonderful everywhere we went – in the small village pubs, the touristy places, and at the market stalls. I already knew that I wanted to travel more, but since visiting Ireland I’ve also added all the other places my family is from to my bucket list so I can continue to experience the footprints of my ancestors.

Of course this plan means that in addition to the money it takes to travel, I’ve also got to make sure that it fits in with the rest of the life plan. That’s where this new program from RBC really struck a chord, because unlike any other thoughts about retirement I had entertained, which was always done with a financial planner and focused on what my monthly income would be at age 60 or 65 or 80, RBC offers a different and unique advice experience. Click here to find out more about Retirement Designers. It’s different than typical financial planning offered by the banks, because it’s been created to help people take a complete look at their lifestyle goals and priorities, not just the money.

In the past (and by past I mean two weeks ago while I was manning my booth at the marvellous Fabulous at 50 Experience and Martini Party), when people asked me what my retirement plans were, I would confidently reply that I wasn’t ever going to retire. I’d perkily add that I could quite happily work forever if it involves helping people through their conundrums, and writing, and mucking about in the kitchen for the rest of my life. Upon reflection, however, the truth is that there has to be a shift in the plan somewhere, because I don’t want to work this intensely forever, and in fact I probably can’t work this hard if I am also going to take some time to travel, and to create, and to spend time with people I love to be around. Plus, as a diabetic with kidney disease I do not have quite the same number of years ahead of me as the average Canadian.

So I went through the interactive RBC retirement tool that helped me look at my priorities in their entirety, including areas like lifestyle, health, family, and legacy. As you might expect, it also offers to connect you with your very own RBC Retirement Designer. This is someone that helps you look at your whole life, a very necessary part of designing your retirement , and IMHO, a darned good idea.

The video was filmed as a reality program, Gillian and Ron, who both have different ideas about the future, are a real couple and the situation encountered is real as well.

The fact they are having this conversation before they step into retirement is one important factor, because most of us (stats say at least 60 percent) neglect this kind of conversation altogether. Oh sure, we’ll plan our vacation down to the hour (we did some of that in Ireland), or argue about new kitchen cabinet handles (they are important too, don’t get me wrong), but we avoid talking about retirement and aging and some of those topics like how we want to help out grandchildren, or how much money we need to support our own aging parents, or how much time we actually want to spend travelling and being away from our homes each year. The exploration this couple does in the video is entertaining, with some reality TV-type drama, but at a deeper level extremely valuable to their future together. Speaking with a Retirement Designer was especially important so they could make decisions that fit their shared goals and the resources they had available.

What are you designing for yourself? Are you ready to start a conversation about designing your retirement? Check out the video (it’s a good 11 minute investment).

Pam Robertson, Ph.D. works as a master certified coach, a best-selling author, and chief cook and recipe tester from her studio just outside of Edmonton. She has started a new chapter at the age of 50 that includes plans to continue cooking and innovating in the kitchen, travelling to wonderful places to explore regional cuisine, and to write obsessively for as long as people will read her stuff.




Collapse Expand Comments (7)

Loved this article. Even though I am male, it really make me think about what I want from my retirement.


It is a matter of fact that life somehow takes a course of it's own and then we turn 50 and it all gets pretty real, pretty fast. Having worked over 25 years as a Registered Nurse, I know all too well that health issues can get in the way of us doing all those things we planned later in life. I fully support having a plan that ensures some balance. Don't put the things you want on the back burner. If we never make the space we never fill it with the things we really want. Have a plan and make you matter! Excellent article with an important message!!


As someone on disability this makes me realize that as 50 is quickly approaching and that I too should be planning even if only in a small way. And perhaps I should seek some advice to see how I can go about it.


for my 2 cents this is another glaring example of the short comings of our education system.

We pay taxes, fees, raise funds and purchase the technology (when posbible) to ensure that the Next Gen has the equipment and resources (subscriptions, access, connectivity) to be at the forefront of digital culture and to access information - and to entertain themselves... At no time in history have we been in a position to provide the Next Gen with the tools to ensure stability and success but it is frittered away. Digital resources provide the Next Gen the opportunity to monitor and measure their success - in all manners and ways. We need to pause and consider the power of this gift. I understand this may be the first generation not to out earn their parents - I believe by harnessing the power of technology we can teach them to achieve a great quality of living through planning, measuring and monitiring. Less learning by personal example and more through collective intelligence.... just my 2 cents


This was really helpful, and I sat down with my husband and watched the video. We have work to do, but we'll be on the same page!


Thank you for the reminder. This is important to address each year and see if we are on track. Best not to put off these issues. Plus a good reminder to teach our children. As adults we often just do the work but don't think to sit the kids down to talk about these subjects.


Thanks to all of you for your comments! I'm glad to see there is cause for reflection, and that the action takers among you are coming up with a plan. I'm looking forward to meeting and chatting with all of you to celebrate your wins and help out anywhere I can! #LiveInspired


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