How to Retire Successfully

Retirement is not an everlasting vacation, and is much more than just not going to work the following morning. In a recent BMO Wealth Institute survey, Canadians shared their concerns, opinions and attitudes about retirement, including the personal attributes they felt helped them transition to a successful, fulfilling retirement. Overall, many felt that a positive outlook towards the future was critical to living their retirement the way they wanted. Of note:

  • 69% of Canadians believed that being engaged or interested in daily activities helped them transition to an enjoyable retirement
  • 62% felt that leading a purposeful and meaningful life was a factor in a happy retirement
  • Many (61%) believed that being capable of participating in activities that are important to them was key

In addition to the need for a positive attitude, Dr. Amy S. D’Aprix, MSW, PhD, CSA, an internationally renowned expert on lifestyle issues related to aging, tells us that the three keys to a successful retirement are purpose, people, and perspective.


Having a sense of purpose is a key factor, and is best explained by that need or drive for something to get you out of bed in the morning. That purpose gives your life a sense of meaning. Your sense of purpose can be enhanced by assessing your life and focusing on what matters to you now, and what you excel in or thrive in doing.


It’s human nature to be social, and social support has many components; the most important of which are emotional or relating to companionship, and tangible (such as practical assistance with day-to-day needs). Many studies have found clear evidence that having positive and nourishing social interactions is linked to better health. Studies have also shown that strong social relationships have similar health and longevity benefits to well-known interventions like cutting out smoking, becoming physically active and eliminating obesity.

According to Dr. D’Aprix, social support is key to aging well, both from a physical and mental standpoint. She also comments that, “It is so important to build social connections and make friendships as you grow and live your life. You have to deepen current relationships, and invest time and effort to make new ones.”


Perspective is about having a good attitude towards your future. Having a belief that you can succeed, often referred to as self-efficacy, is very important. A positive perspective is an important factor in building resiliency in retirement. Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from a difficult situation, and having the internal strength and toughness to rise above any challenges. Having confidence in oneself is an important contributor to resilience. In fact, confidence, when combined with financial learning, helps a person to make more informed and beneficial financial decisions that can contribute to a successful retirement regardless of the challenges faced.

When it comes to what to expect in retirement, the question, “What is next?” is asked by the majority of people entering this chapter in their lives. For many, Dr. D’Aprix believes, the best way to find the answer to this frequently asked question is to actively plan for this transition.

These comments are general in nature, provided for information purposes only, and do not constitute legal, investment, trust, estate, accounting or tax advice. Technical content in this report is provided for the general guidance, based on information believed to be accurate and complete, but we cannot guarantee its accuracy or completeness. It is your responsibility to consult with the appropriate professionals in those areas regarding your specific circumstances.
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