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May 29

In Chapter 3 we recommend keeping a journal as an excellent tool for self-discovery.   Academic research results provide objective support for the benefits of self-authoring.

One such study by at McGill University  and University of Toronto titled “Setting, Elaborating, and Reflecting on Personal Goals Improves Academic Performance” was published by the Journal of Applied Psychology (2010, Vol. 95, No. 2, 255–264) summarized:

“Of students who enroll in 4-year universities, 25% never finish. Precipitating causes of early departure include poor academic progress and lack of clear goals and motivation. In the present study, we investigated whether an intensive, online, written, goal-setting program for struggling students would have positive effects on academic achievement. Students (N 85) experiencing academic difficulty were recruited to participate in a randomized, controlled intervention. Participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 intervention groups: Half completed the goal-setting program, and half completed a control task with intervention-quality face validity. After a 4-month period, students who completed the goal-setting intervention displayed significant improvements in academic performance compared with the control group. The goal-setting program thus appears to be a quick, effective, and inexpensive intervention for struggling undergraduate students.”

Other research described at Self-Authoring

“Careful writing about traumatic or uncertain events, past, present or future, appears to produce a variety of benefits, physiological and psychological. Written accounts of trauma positively influence health. Recent investigations have shown that the explicit written description of an ideal future produces similar results. A large body of research conducted in the industrial and business domains also demonstrates that future authoring or goal-setting results in improved productivity and performance.”

This site offers tools to improve psychological and physical health.Julie Chahal

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Apr 29

Blogging alsbout retirement has had to take a back-seat to moving in recent months. Selling a larger family home, downsizing and simplifying is something most retirees deal with sooner or later. Many of my friends still have bigger houses and continue to enjoy the gardening and upkeep that goes with that. My husband and I had tired of maintaining a larger house. We wanted to spend more time travelling and shed a lot of the unnecessary “stuff” we had accumulated over the course of our marriage. Moving to smaller digs made sense. We put our house on the market before buying, and we sold quickly. A long-closing gave us reasonable time to search for our next abode, but that did not solve the probelm of where we actually wanted to go.

I was initially thrilled – and then somewhat daunted by the idea that we could move anywhere we wanted. I have a friend who sold her home and decided to travel the world, rather than settling anywhere. I was pretty sure I wanted to settle – but where? Did I want to stay in the somewhat staid and predictable suburban community where we had raised our three kids? Did I want to move out West where we have two children residing and some good friends? Certainly the weather in a place like Vancouver would be more appealing that the often severe Ontario winters. But I liked the change of seasons, and my husband is a skier, so we were not driven by a need to move to more temperate climes.

We had the option of moving from our bland suburb into the city. We love cities and drive regularly to films and musical events. Locating closer to downtown made some sense. A new-built condo in one of those upmarket areas of town – steps from coffee houses, art galleries, and restaurants was enticing. The downside was cost and space. The new condos are clearly designed to separate retirees from any wealth they may have come into with a gradual rise in housing values over the last 30 years. You can trade your 4 bedroom home for a one-bedroom, plus den postage stamp size living arrangement. I wanted to downsize, but possibly not that much.

We ended up purchasing a modest townhouse very near our previous home. On balance, this turned out to be the most practical option. Am I disappointed not to have been more venturesome in my choice? Sometimes. Is the grass likely greener across the city or across the country? Could be. Have I missed opportunities for meeting new people and discovering a new neighborhood? Likely. Did we make the wrong choice? So far, I don’t think so.


 Not fancy, but well located and lots of green space!

I would like to start collecting “downsizing” stories. I invite you to post your own experience?

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Feb 15

Contribution from Callum Short, Founder of UK-Franchise.co.uk

Whether you’re 50 or 70, retirement isn’t always as it seems and it yields its own day-to-day grind which can often be described as tedious. Having retirement on your CV may not create the strongest interest in being hired for part-time careers, starting up your own company could very easily be too demanding and occupy too much of your time which you still want to dedicate to more activities of a leisure nature.

Despite part time careers and starting your own company being inconvenient and against your interests, there are other options. For decades franchising has been seen as a business opportunity which is perfect for the retired. What is a franchise? A franchise is a business model which prioritises scalability by selling the brand to individuals who often have worked in business in their past. The very fundamental structure of a franchise network creates a great platform for support, you work alongside other people in your position who have adopted a franchise brand and are working to progress their own individual slice of the franchise. There’s no marketing required on your part, no worries of failure and no chance of being on your own. Ultimately, the franchisor takes care of the sales while you as a franchisee take care of your own individual business. Run into a problem? No problem, you have a network of other franchisees who you can talk to and who will assist you in running your organisation, it is a mutual benefit.

Not all franchises are easy though. The old dogs of the industry such as the fast food restaurants and estate agents often have an initial demand to launch the business which can be extremely demanding and rather stressful. While it does have its benefits, these aren’t necessarily the franchises that suit the retired. Consider this however, if you’re someone who has an interest in charities and earning a passive income through local networking, a franchise such as Snackaid could be perfect for you. It provides you with all you need to start distributing snacked goods for retail outlets, earning a contribution for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and rewarding you generously for controlling the distribution and helping such a high-profile charity. To start such a Snack Aid franchise, it would cost a minimum of just £3,700 and could return profits of up to £30,000 annually.

The communal aspects of franchising also create a perfect network of support. You will be surrounded by other franchisees who are in or have been in your exact business position and are incentivised to support and assist you due to the shared success of franchise networks. If you had your own business, you might run into an issue and not know how to move past it. It could take up chunks of your capital and more importantly, your time. Yet, a franchise would bypass this scenario completely as other franchisees and headquarters support would only be an email or telephone call away.

Passiveness is always in the pipeline with franchising as well. When you’re retired, you don’t want to be working all the time. You want to have something to be responsible for and to work for, however, you also want to be able to sit back and watch your empire grow. Franchising enables through this. Through a proven business model and internally procured marketing/sales strategies, you will be perfectly able to leave your franchise to sustain itself while still receiving a pay check. It’s not a get rich scheme and it won’t happen overnight, but with the right franchise and the right management ethic, you’ll certainly be on track to achieve it.

Finding the right franchise is vital to your success, it must be relative to your career experience its demands must correlate with your interests. You don’t want to be taking on a franchise which requires a 40 hour work week if you’re in your requirement. A 4 hour work week seems more reasonable and we’ll help you find it.

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Nov 24

Julie ChahalResearch results continue to show that brains remain capable of learning and improving performance throughout our lives!  It turns out that you can teach an old dog (and mouse and human) new tricks.  That’s the good news.  We know that muscles atrophy without use and so do the capabilities of our brains, so we need to consider mental fitness as well as our physical fitness.

Lifelong learning of information and especially skills is enriching and fun and now we know that it is also essential to brain plasticity.  We offered some ideas in Chapter 10 of our book but they are just the beginning of what is possible

Dr. Michael Merzenich, considered the father of brain plasticity, suggests that “the key to brain change is close, serisoft-wiredous, highly attentive engagement at a level on which you are continuously challenging yourself.”   He gives examples of painting and jigsaw puzzles that encourage close attention to shape, colour, texture and shifting between details and (literally) the big picture.

We can supplement a mentally healthy lifestyle with focussed exercises to stave off the cognitive deterioration that may come with age.  A training program developed by PositScience can be found here.

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Feb 01

Julie ChahalDeciding to volunteer is easy.  Finding the right opportunity can be daunting.  The map below shows some of the factors to consider.

You might also be interested in reading an excerpt from the book on volunteering and in completing our questionnaire.




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Nov 05

Julie Chahal

One of the challenges of retirement is that our society equates success with being hardworking and excelling in what we produce. The 16th century French philosopher Michel de Montaigne had a point of view perhaps more appropriate to this stage of our lives.


Let us be kind to ourselves … We are great fools. ‘He has spent his life in idleness,’ we say. ‘I have done nothing today.’ What? Have you not lived? That is not only the most fundamental but the most illustrious of your occupations … to compose our character is our duty, not to compose books and to win battles and provinces, but order and tranquility in our conduct. Our great and glorious masterpiece is to live!

The full translated version of Montaigne’s Essays can be found on line  here.


This was extracted from Kati Marton’s book Paris: A Love Story.

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Oct 30


When I was a new mother, I used to envy grandmothers. Grandmothers could have all of the fun of the kids, but excuse themelves from the worry. If you are a parent, worry is a familiar state of mind. I have three kids (no grandkids yet) and even now that they are older I worry about them, fret over their set-backs and cringe at their misteps. To be honest, I am a worrier by nature and others might be more casual about this. If yes, I envy them. The real point I wanted to make is that from the experience of many of my friends, I realize that being a grandparent can involve as much worry as being a parent.

The issues that many children face these days is troubling. Bullying is an example, and teachers have told me that there seems to be a huge increase in the numbers of students afflicted by learning disabilities and autism.  I had some knowledge of autism, but learned a lot from a new book which seems to be able to penetrate the confusing world of autism.  It’s a great little book, called The White Bicycle by Beverley Brenna. Bev is my sister-in-law and a very good writer. The book is about a 19 year-old girls’s attempt to establish her independence while coping with this disability using strategies she has been taught over the years.   The book was a finalist for the American Library Association’s Printz Award for young adult literature and is a finalist for the Canadian Governor General’s awards for children’s writing. The cover of the book was created by , a wonderfully accomplished young man with autism, Taylor Crowe.  His story and Beverley’s book are inspiring for parents (and grandparents) who have family members who are struggling with autism.

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Feb 27

lsI have just found out about another independent bookstore closing.  A number of years ago I read a story about a longstanding bookstore in Halifax closing.  The owner indicated that he knew the writing was on the wall when a package from Amazon.com arrived on their premises.  The package was addressed to someone renting an apartment upstairs, but it was inadvertently opened by bookstore staff.  The book was one they had on their shelves.

I love the convenience of being able to order books online – with their endless inventory.  But I will miss the rich experience of being able to go into a local bookstore and browse the shelves. I think this is an especially rewarding thing to do in smaller communities where the bookstore is also often a social hub.  Already there are too few opportunities for bumping into acquaintances and interacting with real people in the marketplace.  I probably sound like a grumpy retiree – but I know many young people who also lament the disappearance of independent bookstores.

On the plus side, I am kind of glad most of those video stores have disappeared.  Things like Netflix and video-on-demand are WAY more convenient once you figure them out.

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Jan 21



I am thinking about books a lot recently. One of my favorite year-end pastimes is to check out those ubiquitous booklists that appear in newspapers and magazines. I especially like the online lists which invite comments from readers. It is great fun to have readers name their own favorites, and it is one way to discover little known gems. I have just ordered a copy of The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread – a book from the fifties that seems to have a cult following among those who first encountered it in their school days as it was read aloud by a parent or teacher. I also just placed an order for Eureka Street, a well reviewed book about working class neighborhoods of Belfast. Both of these books are sufficiently out of date that I would never have encountered them were it not for those end-of-the-year postings of favourite books.


Part of my process involves finding out about good things to read and adding to a list of books I will attempt to tackle in 2013. To be realistic, I will not get through even half of the things I would like to read. Even as a retiree, there is never enough time for reading.


Which brings me to another angst-producing activity. Our community has an annual used book sale in February I always go and pick up interesting books (bags and boxes full). This year I am constraining myself and will only allow myself to acquire 1/2 the number I am donating. (How else to whittle down shelves full of books? So far I have packed four boxes of discards.) I am currently in the process of weeding books – some quite wonderful books that I just know I will never get around to reading, so little point in continuing to hang on to them. My reading interests have shifted from popular fiction to non-fiction, historical fiction, and memoirs, but I am nevertheless reluctant to part with copies of works by Joyce Carol Oates, Jane Urquhart or Michael Cunningham, all of whom are wonderful writers. Sigh!


What are your reading preferences, and how do you set reading priorities? I am thinking that a good strategy might be to pick a single genre (e.g. Memoirs) and stick with that for the year. The reading would undoubtedly be interesting and I would not feel quite so overwhelmed.


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Dec 04

I’ve accumulated a lot of 3 ring binders with my journalling over the years. I notice that I tend to write a lot during difficult times and transitions, but less during the good times. As a result, I fear that anyone reading them in the future would get a very distorted impression of my life.

What do I do with all this material? I hate to throw it all out. I’m not likely to reread it. As mentioned above, I’m not at all sure I want to leave them for others to read.

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