03/01/2019 11:48 EST | Updated 03/01/2019 12:03 EST

You've Retired. So, How Will You Spend All That Free Time?

The transition from working 40 hours a week can be overwhelming if you don't have a plan.

"Can you believe it, honey? Friday's my last day at work! Time sure flies. I can't wait to start spending all of our free time together!"

Did this thought warm your heart, or get your pulse racing in panic? That probably depends on whether you've given some good thought to what you're doing after retirement.

Daniel Allan via Getty Images

But what do you actually want to do after you stop working? Your retirement income goals will depend much on your answer to that question, as your financial adviser is apt to tell you.

We're living longer — and that's a good thing, if you plan for it

"Retirement" wasn't really a thing until recently. You lived, you worked, you died... and the world kept turning as youth picked up the baton of life's track meet. That's partly the reason pension age was set at 65 — few were expected to live long enough to claim it! When the United States passed their Social Security Act in 1935, American men were expected to live to about 58.

But with our longer life spans, you could still be shuffling around decades after you've stopped working. According to Statistics Canada and the 2016 Census, "there were 5.9 million seniors in Canada, which accounted for 16.9 per cent of the total population. In comparison, there were 2.4 million seniors in 1981, or 10 per cent of the population."

There are more retirees than ever! So, our question is a practical one: how do you retire and still fill 40 hours a week?

What Canadian retirees are already doing with their time

How Canadians spend their retirement.

Does this all seem inspiring... or overwhelming? Is the room spinning at the prospect of playing shuffleboard and doing yard work for the next two or three decades? Fortunately, we've picked up an important idea from doing retirement income planning with countless clients.

You see, actually observing how retirees behave once they hit their autumn years has taught us something about how they spend their time (and money). Ready for our BIG TIP that's going to keep you and your loved ones sane when you stop going into the office? Here goes.

Your bucket list is not a calendar

Sure, you'll probably check off those big-ticket "I can't believe I waited all this time" items early on in your first year or two. A cross-country camper tour. Sailing in Mexico. River-touring the Danube. After that, you might just be filling most of your time with reading and hanging out with your grandkids.

That is to say, your lifestyle and expenses might seem blown up at first. But after that, people tend to calm down — like our multi-millionaire client who probably spends no more than $1,800 a month and her greatest indulgence is a blueberry muffin at her local cafe.

Ariel Skelley via Getty Images

Your active lifestyle will change as you age

As the Statistics Canada report cited above noted, older retirees at 65 tend to be less active than at 55, putting more time into reading and watching TV (which comes as a big surprise only for those who have never lived in society).

When planning how you will spend your time, again, front-load those outdoor activities at the start. It will probably help you keep healthy longer. And you can always switch over from golf over to stamp collecting when you're in your 90s.

Work isn't really work if you enjoy it

There is no hard rule that you must stop working as soon as you hit birthday number 65. If you enjoy what you do — and as importantly, if your skills are in demand, why stop?

To be sure, you might need to change up how you do what you do. If you were a manager with a big firm, now you're an independent business consultant conveying priceless insights from years on the job.

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Or maybe you want to try out a new skill set, retiring from teaching and starting an all-natural honey business that gets a start at farmers' markets. Earning an income might reduce the amount you get from social security. But if you're having fun and enjoying life, do what you want!

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