Finding a passion is key to retirement

For Lynn Jacobson, it’s his work with the Alberta Federation of Agriculture and other boards that makes life meaningful

There are a lot of questions when it comes to retirement, but none as big as where one wants to live their retirement years.

When planning for retirement, Lynn Jacobson and his wife, Elaine, knew they wanted to stay on the farm as long as they could. They had other ideas on where they could live, but none of them compared to their own home.

The Jacobsons had worked their mixed Enchant, Alta., farm for 45 years before retiring in 2016. All their land is now rented and Jacobson continues to watch as other people farm his land. It was difficult at first and he had to learn to take a step back, he says.

“At the start, I was looking out the window or driving by and saying, ‘well, they’re doing it wrong, I wouldn’t do it that way.’ My wife would hit me on the shoulder and say, ‘you’re not doing it.’ ”

Jacobson is still around and helps out if the renters need a hand. After taking that step back, Jacobson found he was satisfied with how the renters were running the show.

Lynn and Elaine’s three kids were not interested in taking over the farm and that’s OK, he says. At 68 years old, Jacobson says he has no serious health problems and his kids aren’t worried about Lynn and Elaine staying on the farm too long. This also means their children are not pressuring them to make a decision on where to live next.

It can be difficult for retirees to move to a new community in later years and getting to know new people can be a challenge.

Jacobson has seen it happen. When his parents moved off the farm and into Lethbridge, Jacobson wasn’t expecting them to have those kinds of problems.

“They never got involved with the community or anything like that. I thought they were outgoing and everything but they were outgoing with their friends and things that they had known all their lives. They were kind of reluctant when it came to meeting new people.”

Their farmyard has been subdivided since they retired, so when they decide they are ready to move off the place, financially and legally it will be an easy transition.

Emotionally and mentally might be a different story, he says, but Jacobson has a lot to occupy his time and mind, which is key in retirement.

As a member of the board of directors for the Alberta Federation of Agriculture and a member of the Canada Energy Regulator consultation group, Jacobson keeps busy not only with meetings but also with travel around the country on board business.

Retirees need to find passion and purpose before they retire or at least understand how they will spend their time, he says. Some of Jacobson’s friends have turned to woodworking or trips to Arizona for the winter but his passion is staying involved with causes that he’s been involved in since he was in his 30s.

Having these board positions and being involved has made the transition to retirement easier, he says.

“We were in Ottawa a couple of times a year and places around the country talking to politicians and things like this and being fairly active in a lot of this stuff. I found I have enjoyed it.”

If Jacobson hadn’t carried all these things into retirement, it would have been harder to get into it and he may have been left scrambling for something to do, he says.

“A lot of people that haven’t been involved are somewhat reluctant to start doing some of the things we’ve been doing for quite a long time. They don’t feel comfortable standing up in front of a crowd and talking or being part of a board. They don’t know exactly what that’s going be like or they don’t like the board experience at all.”

However, Jacobson has gained amazing experiences from being on provincial boards and has made friends across the country, he says. When he needs to travel, he doesn’t have to rent a hotel room in any major city in Canada, he laughs, because he always has someone he calls and visits at the same time.

For people trying to make that move, Jacobson recommends they find multiple things that they enjoy.

“Because you’ve been involved in one profession all your life doesn’t mean you can’t get involved in other things and your contribution isn’t valuable. But you have to be involved to keep yourself stimulated.”

Jacobson enjoys fishing and the board work has meant friends, travel, and still being involved in an industry he enjoys. The more things to keep one occupied the more reasons one has to get out of bed each day, he says.

Elaine’s family lives around the Okotoks and Calgary area but that is not where Jacobson wants to spend their retirement. Lethbridge is where all their friends have moved to, he says, but he and Elaine would like to live somewhere that isn’t so windy.

Another option is moving from the farm to cabin life at Kaslo, B.C., he says, their regular vacation spot.

“I got the boat. We bob around on the lake out there and trout fish and do all the other things.”

In retirement, Jacobson has discovered that he doesn’t like yard work, he laughs. So maybe a condo in B.C. doesn’t sound bad at all.

With the farm still being where they want to live, they will not be making this decision for a while.

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