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I have to admit that I failed retirement after being employed by the Thames Valley Board of Education. The life of leisure lasted one very long boring week. The first thing I did was to try and organize my wife's kitchen pantry. Ella told me to get the hell out of her kitchen and find something else to do. I quickly found an office in London. Many years later I am still enjoying my education/career program.

Iíve learned some lessons about what not to do. But more important I figured out what to do. Life has three stages. The first is learning. The second is earning a living. The third is returning. But if you focus on retirement as a time of returning and giving something back to society it can transform your life.

Retirement isnít the end. It can be a beginning. For the past twenty years I have had the opportunity to counsel some very nice people aged 16-66. If you want to stay young interact with people who can make you laugh and be involved. Your gray hair/experience is an affirmation that your advice can be of help.

For those of you that yearn for the freedom fifty-five there are the good and bad aspects of retiring. If you are a Canadian male you will live on average until age eighty compared to the females who pass away at eighty-five.

Many men find themselves bored, vulnerable and depressed in their retirement years. After six months or even three years they are still asking themselves asking what are they going to do to-morrow? Men feel a sense of loss because their life has been closely tied to their careers.

My daughter ,Sarah, encouraged us to sell the farm, close the practice and move to Collingwood. After due deliberation I decided to not move; I did not wanting to lose my self identity.

A lot of people think that after all of the stress of their working lives they shouldnít have any stress after they retire. There is a word for a stress-free state and it is not retirement. Itís death. Study after study shows that complete retirement may mean an early trip to the grave. Many male executives who simply go off into the setting sun are dead before their best before due date.

The Institute of Economic Affairs stats shows that: "retirement increases the probability of suffering from clinical depression by forty percent."

Do the math and plan your retirement wisely for the next twenty-five to thirty years. Tick-tock goes the clock. Compare the new life of leisure to your previous day of working eight hours, sleeping eight hours leaving eight hours for fun.

It used to be fifteen minutes for a coffee break and now the whole damn day can be one never ending mornings at Tim Hortonís.

George Eastman founder and C. E. O. of Eastman Kodak left a suicide note the day he retired: " My work is done. Why wait?"

Statistics from the U.S. based Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows the highest increase in suicide is in men age fifty-five and over.

While retirement isnít always the trigger, experts say the change in lifestyle can be a cause for depression.

There is life/happiness after your previous career if one does some planning by balancing leisure, learning, volunteering or a change of careers. It is possible to mix and match working, learning, relaxing and trying new things.

Recently the glossy educational brochures have been arriving in my mailbox. Fanshawe Collegeís handbook "Continuing your Education with the enticing question: Want to learn new skills? To lean more check out their web site www.fanshawe.ca/training.

Not to be outdone The University of Western Ontario has a Continuing Studies at Western.http://www.uwo.ca/studieshttp://www.alumni.uwo.ca Their web site is wcs.uwo.ca .

The Society for Learning in Retirement has an enticing interactive program for people interested in a variety of interesting subjects. Their web site is www.slrlondon.ca

There is lots to discover; the brain is like unto a muscle: you use it or you lose it.

Okay, you do not want to be involved with learning. How about getting out and about and volunteering. Check out the Londonerís 26 different associations that you can be involved in. Believe it or not you are wanted and can in your own way make a difference in your community.

Ask yourself every day if you are happy. Henny Youngman used to joke that: " What good is happiness? You canít buy money with it."

If you are fortunate to have your health and you are not ready for the nursing home make a plan and get involved with something that you have a passion for.

Remember that men are vulnerable to boredom, depression in retirement. Without a sense of purpose and routine of a job, many new retirees have trouble filling their time when every day seems like Sunday.

Please drop me an e-mail if you are contemplating retirement. I may be able to help in the transition.


Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com