Tag Archives: Retirement plan

Would I Come Back As a Contractor?

Revolving DoorAs the countdown to retirement marches on, surprisingly, the question of whether I would consider coming back as a contract employee comes up at least once per month. The question always makes me smile.

Given that retirement for me is still a few years away, I find the best answer to the contracting question is something along the lines of “Thanks for the vote of confidence! We’ll see when the time comes.”

First and foremost, I take it as an amazing compliment. I know I worked very hard to build a solid career based on quality work, strong ethics, working well with colleagues and maintaining a positive attitude. To me, the contractor question is one that fills me with validation and gratitude.

Over the years I have seen many of my colleagues retire and then come back a few years later for short contracts, sharing their vast corporate knowledge and expertise. It is always a pleasant surprise to see their smiling faces and renewed energy at meetings. Parenthetically, I wish they would stop looking so darn refreshed after a few years away from the office. It makes me very envious!

However, I think it is very natural to dream and fantasize about a time when I can truly reap the rewards of a retirement that I worked a lifetime to build. I look forward to the sense of complete freedom where going to bed promptly, getting up with the alarm, dealing with traffic, and commuting in heavy snow or freezing rain become optional. I look forward to having choices I can make, purely in the moment.

To me, my first priority when I decide it is time to retire is to do just that: enjoy the fruits of my labour: Continue reading

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A Taste of Retirement

Andrew Haydon Park, September 2015

Andrew Haydon Park, September 2015

Just before turning 50, I decided that my birthday present to myself was to take two weeks off from work for an easy-going staycation.

Originally, my partner and I had kicked around the idea of a trip to California to celebrate the big occasion, but a lower Canadian dollar made our trip to New York City in the spring a little more expensive than expected. Combined with a special assessment from my condominium corporation, there was a little dent in my cash flow which made California a little pricey at that point in time. After tossing around a few other more affordable ideas, just chilling close to home seemed to be the option that resonated most with me.

It did not take long to find the benefits of two weeks off to take life at a gentle pace, away from the commuting, the meetings and the deadlines. Also, given that I did not have a pressing list of appointments or major home maintenance projects ahead of me, a fairly quiet two weeks increasingly appealed to me. Reconnecting with life’s simple pleasures would be good for the soul: good sleep, good food, time to write, fresh air and exercise.

Vacation time kicked off with an exciting overnight trip to Toronto for a chance to see Janet Jackson in concert. I could not say no to the idea of crossing “Miss-Jackson,-if-you’re-nasty” off my bucket list of concerts, especially since I had never seen one of her live shows before but was always a huge fan of her music and videos.

The opportunity to see Janet worked out beautifully as a way of launching the vacation in style while quickly transitioning my mind away from the office. It was a fantastic show, sure to appeal to all loyal fans, in offering a set list of all of her hits and a few new songs from her latest album “Unbreakable”, packaged together in a high energy concert of brilliant dancing, staging and light show. For me, this Janet Jackson concert was definitely worth the wait.

Not long after returning home, the realization that I was on vacation quickly set in. The problem for me is that this sensation usually heralds a nervous energy spurt to start cleaning in the corners I don’t usually have time to get into on a week-to-week basis. But this time, it felt different. Because I wasn’t trying to wedge in a lengthy to-do list in a matter of a few days, I had the luxury of time to just try attacking one or two items per day. This allowed me to keep the rest of the day to myself and to decide in the moment how to spend it.

However, the recent arrival of Ivy the cat Continue reading

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Top 10 Things I Wanted To Be When I Grew Up

Getting_Older

I would like to think that my parents did a good job in raising me, providing all the positive reinforcement a young boy needs, including the popular statement from page 826, paragraph 7f, of the parenting handbook, “Honey, when you grow up, you can be anything you want to be”.

How’s that for a torturous open-ended statement for Libra child, facing a lifetime of weighing the pros and the cons of career planning? No pressure there!

Fortunately, life deals us a variety of hands that help shape that wide, open-ended statement into something that gradually narrows into what might seem like a career path. Factors like interest, talent, perseverance and perhaps even things like eye-hand coordination (or lack thereof) gradually eliminate a few options, bit by bit, without really trying too hard.

It is clear that hockey player, pro golfer and baseball player were never on the table for me. When it came to natural affinity, I don’t think I was cut out to be a scientist since Physics was one of my worst subjects.

However, I did inherit (if one can actually inherit these) a head for numbers from my Dad and an affinity for creativity and language from my Mom so I was indeed lucky with the doors that were open to me.

Here they are: The Top 10 Things I Wanted to Be When I Grew Up

10 – An elevator operator
Yes, I am of a vintage that remembers a time when people were hired to drive elevators. The elevators of yesteryear were not fully automated like today, as the doors needed a human to open and close them. I remember visits to a big downtown department store when I was very young and thought driving an elevator all day would be the coolest thing and that the people operating them had the coolest job EVER! I admit that I was also impressed by the very smart elevator operator uniforms. Unfortunately the fully automated elevator came in shortly thereafter and dashed those dreams… darn technology!

9 – A dentist
This one lasted for a LONG time and I believe it was inspired from Hermey, the elf in the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Christmas Special on television. I remember my Grade 7 composition on “What I Want To Be When I Grow Up” was indeed on the theme of dentistry. To prepare for that composition I spent a few afternoons at the library reading everything available on the topic. The research was hard core (well, about as hard core and scientific as a 12 year old’s research can get) and I knocked that composition out of the park. However, I spent so much time in the orthodontist’s chair in my teens getting my bottom teeth straightened, I lost interest.

8 – A corporate trainer
As an adult, I am very fortunate in not being prone to much “stage fright” when it comes to public speaking. That being the case, when I Continue reading

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Thank you for 2014 and Happy new 2015

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESTo say that 2014 was a year of challenges would be a bit of an understatement. This past year brought a death in the family, a bad case of shingles and a workplace going through more change than I had ever seen before. 2014 was a year of major transition for me and many within my inner circle.

Throughout this turbulent year, one of the keys that helped me maintain my grounding was the commitment to my writing and the blog, even if it was a challenge in itself to squeak out the words. I always suspected that writing was my calling from the unique sense of euphoria I feel when I commit words to paper which in turn, converts to joy, energy and enthusiasm. This past year reaffirmed that.

The focus that is required to concentrate on a given subject, even the lightest of topics, offered the happy place I needed to stay afloat when my world felt like it was sinking. Anchoring yourself to your passion can be regenerative and restorative, even though it takes energy to get started.

Writing is not easy, when you are not in the mood. Choosing the right words is tough when are too tired to speak. Self-editing can be like pulling teeth when you are having a hard time pulling yourself together. But is it worth the effort to challenge myself to produce a 1,000(ish) word essay each week? You bet it is!

The more time I devote to creative writing now, the more refined will be the reflex later in retirement when it is time to take a lifetime of journals to the next level.

Successful moments in 2014

While first and foremost, the blog is really about the writing, the steadily increasing number of blog posts, page hits, blog subscribers, Twitter followers and retweets, has been the vote of confidence to me that Continue reading

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First Anniversary!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOn October 26 of last year, I took the plunge! I created my blog and posted my first entry. I admit I wasn’t entirely sure of what I was doing, how WordPress worked or who would even read it, but the objective was clear: I needed a vehicle to get into the regular habit of writing as a gradual warm-up to my goal of writing full-time when I retire from my day job.

Here we are, 52 blog posts later, celebrating the first anniversary. I guess it worked!

To me, what has become a most interesting part is the evolution of the blogging process itself. In the beginning, I was sitting at my desk asking myself, “what am I going to write about this week?” and sometimes feeling a sense of pressure as my self-imposed Monday deadline approached.

I tried leveraging my commute time to write new posts, which worked to some extent, but let’s face it, when you are getting jostled by backpacks and fellow commuters, it is not most conducive to digging deep into your soul for pearls of wisdom.

Perhaps it was about six months into the journey, something weird happened. I stopped Continue reading

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The journey inspired by those who left us too early

TypewriterMy sense of urgency for putting words to paper is heightened every time I hear of someone who passes away and “just retired in the last couple of years”. The cause does not really matter though unexpected medical conditions seem to be the most frequent culprit. Needless to say, having just gobbled down a handful of vitamins and a protein-rich, anti-oxidant rich, superfood enriched, gluten free smoothie for breakfast, I am giving it my best shot to make sure it doesn’t happen to me.

At the top of the list of people within my circle who died too early is my own father. Extremely hard working, dedicated, loyal and keenly focused, he clearly channeled much of his energy into the workplace. He chose to balance things out with mellow hobbies in his off time to conserve energy for his work. While I understand his rationale was to be a model employee, always bright eyed and bushy tailed for work, sharp and focused …a truly admirable commitment. I often wonder if there wasn’t something else he would have rather been doing in his spare time to let loose, get crazy and let off some steam even though my memory of my Dad was of someone always in control, never breaking character. I secretly wished that he may have had a juicier “bucket list” of activities for his retirement, like sky diving, bungee jumping or rappelling off the side of a mountain, but sadly we will never really know the answer to that. He was diagnosed with lung cancer a few months after retiring, and spent the next 18 months in treatment before the cancer got him at age 60.

Another example was a former manager of mine, a great leader who Continue reading

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The Writing Journey


One would think I was aware of my journey from the moment my mother kept pressing the 5 year-old me to clean up his bedroom, often referred to as “the fire trap” given the piles of paper surrounding the bed, otherwise referred to as “kindling”.  Whether it was drawings, colouring book pages or my early scribblings of the written word, in English or en français it didn’t really matter, as expressing myself on paper just seemed to come naturally from a very young age.  I even remember one Christmas around that age, opening a gift that I thought was a pile of loose leaf sheets and shrieking with delight, only to realize that it was actually an activity book. Nonetheless, the fact that surrounding myself with paper (including books, magazines and newspapers) resonated with me from such a young age, you’d think I would have known from that point on, but the journey took a different path.

Throughout the school years, compositions and essays were my most favourite assignment, and frankly, I totally knocked them out of the park, but the parental path, as well-intentioned as it was, was leading me down the path of mathematics, as the most secure and successful path in life.  Frankly, I could not argue with the logic that business depends on numbers, and business is generally a lucrative path (from early on, they were making it clear that the Bégin bank was closed once I was set up and moved out).  Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, I turned out to be pretty good at math as well.  (Don’t ask about how I did in gym or physics)  That being the case, my path through numbers was carved out and was the route I followed. (I hate to admit it, but there is a bit of a “Sheldon” deep deep inside!)

Let’s face it though, self-awareness is not most teenagers’ strongest suit and I was no different.  Also, there was no arguing with my Dad’s black-and-white and clear-as-a-bell logic so it was probably the best path at the time, at least to avoid the yelling that would arise from not heeding his advice.  Frankly, Continue reading

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