Planning a Happy Retirement

Isn’t Retirement Just One Long Vacation?

By Dr. Susan Hutchinson, PhD (CTRS)
School of Health and Human Performance
Dalhousie University

Advertorial —A leisure researcher from Dalhousie University in Halifax, I also give workshops on planning for life in retirement. What I hear most often from participants are comments such as, “I’ll have 52 weeks of weekends to look forward to” and “Life will just be one long weekend!”

But after 365 days with no sense of purpose (or pure indulgence), will they still feel the same way? Most people give a lot of thought and attention to their financial planning for retirement but comparatively little to their lifestyle planning, and so they’re not prepared for the days and weeks that follow retirement.

Research has shown that the more thoroughly people plan their retirement lifestyle, the better they adjust to and enjoy retirement. Lifestyle planning includes not just how you’ll pay for retirement, but how you’ll look after your health, relationships, and social network, and how you’ll spend your time. It means planning not just bucket-list pursuits but also everyday routines and activities that provide a sense of purpose, accomplishment, and pleasure, and contribute to overall health and well-being.

What Does This Mean for You?
If you haven’t given much thought to planning for life in retirement, a number of tools and resources are available on The Retired You website:, as are short posts summarizing some of the research on retirement and connecting it to thinking about your own lifestyle planning. As an example, check out this recent post:

Also, if you’re thinking of retiring in the next couple of years, or if you retired within the last five years, there’s a brief, anonymous online survey that will give you a chance to think about what planning you have done—or could be doing—for your retirement. Sharing your lifestyle planning experiences through the survey will help others who may have trouble seeing retirement as anything more than one long vacation! This research study has been approved by Dalhousie University’s Research Ethics Board. Here’s the link to the survey:

If you have questions or comments please contact me: Dr. Susan Hutchinson: I look forward to hearing from you!