Monday, March 28, 2011

Retirement Readiness

Don't simply retire from something;
have something to retire to.

~Harry Emerson Fosdick

In doing a Google search for “retirement readiness,” the first several pages of results focused on financial readiness. This likely makes sense; in 2009 MacLean’s magazine did a series on Canada’s Retirement Crisis in which they noted that two-thirds of retirees are going to be underfunded and, when surveyed, 18-34 year old workers reported saving less than 10% of their income for retirement. The reality is that financial preparedness is a key component of a long and happy retirement; however, it isn’t the only thing to consider.

There are many other factors that contribute to a happy retirement including taking care of yourself, redefining your identity, and engaging in continuous learning. While it might seem more appropriate to think about retirement as the date is looming, retirement readiness really begins at the start of your career.

Regardless of what career stage you’re at right now, take a moment to consider your retirement; select 2-3 tips from our Prepare for Retirement tip sheet, develop SMART goals for the tips you select, and set some milestone dates to monitor your progress.

Remember retirement readiness is an ongoing process; something to keep in mind throughout your career.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Balance in Transitional Times

We’ve explored the concept of “Balance” in previous blogs; however, as the struggle for balance seems to be a constant challenge in our chaotic world, it seems important to revisit. Balance is an elusive concept that impacts your ability to function at work and at home. It can be difficult to keep life in balance when you have multiple roles and conflicting priorities in an ever-changing environment. It’s like trying to get your footing when the ground is shaking below you and the finish line is always shifting.

To facilitate balance in transitional times, you may find it helpful to:
  • Accept that uncertainty is natural
  • Recognize that change is an “event” and transition is a “process
  • Work through the stages of transition
    1. Acknowledge and grieve endings
    2. Explore new ways of doing things
    3. Embrace “new beginnings” and opportunities
  • Ask for help if you need it

In addition, a shift from thinking of “balance” to “sustainability” may be needed. People often talk about “sustainability” in terms of the environment; however, this same concept can be applied at a personal level. In our 10 Tips to Facilitate Sustainability you’ll learn strategies to facilitate personal sustainability and deal with change including accepting that balance is a myth and exploring how to make continuous adjustments to ensure a sustainable and enjoyable life!

So be sure when you step,
step with care and great tact.
And remember that
Life's a Great Balancing Act.

~ Dr. Seuss

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fitting Professional Development Into Lives That Are Already Full

It’s widely acknowledged that lifelong learning is important. Many professionals require a specific number of “continuing education units” (CEUs) each year to maintain their certification. With constant changes in the workplace (e.g., new technology, processes, or job responsibilities), training may be necessary just to stay qualified to do your job, even if you’re not striving to get ahead.

However, at the same time that learning demands are on the increase, organizations are striving to do more with less – so it may not be possible to take time away from work to accommodate your learning needs. Learning, then, may encroach on your personal time – which, in turn, may already be full!

Canadian career expert, Barbara Moses, writes about living your life in chapters. So, one approach to professional development is to give it the amount of your life that it’s worth at the moment. Realistically, it may not be the best time to take on a full degree program so sort out the minimum professional development required to keep your career on track.

If you decide that now is the time to more fully engage in learning, consider what other life roles or major tasks you can set aside. Making room for courses may mean temporarily giving up volunteering, or downshifting your career so that less overtime or travel is required. Perhaps it’s help around the house that you’ll need – can you afford to hire a cleaner or cook? Arrange for additional daycare while you’re at school and also while you’re studying? Can you engage other family members in taking on more responsibility? The best juggler in the world can’t keep adding balls to the mix without dropping something!

Life Strategies offers many e-learning opportunities (on our website, click on Our Services / Programs and Courses for a comprehensive list), including some directed studies courses which you can schedule at your convenience. Also, check out our tip sheets on fitting professional development into busy lives and stretching your professional development dollars.