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Phil Yates, a recent retiree, leans against his dual motorcycle-cyclist setup inside the garage at his property in Fenelon Falls, Ont.Shay Conroy/The Globe and Mail

In Tales from the Golden Age, retirees talk about their spending, savings and whether life after work is what they expected.

Philip Yates, 59, Fenelon Falls, Ont.

I retired in December, 2019, at age 56. I told my business partners when I was 51 that I would retire in five years, and that’s what I did. After many years of running a custom-build woodworking business, I started to get burned out. I didn’t have the same drive. I wasn’t as thrilled by the big sales any more, which is when I knew I had had enough.

In January, 2020, a few weeks after retirement, my then-wife and I travelled to Thailand for two months and then to Malaysia for a few weeks before returning home in April, when it looked like the pandemic wasn’t going to be over any time soon.

I’m an avid cyclist and have always dreamed of riding my bicycle across Canada, so I decided to go for it. I started on July 1, 2020, and rode east until I was stopped by the Atlantic Bubble, which restricted visitors from outside those provinces. I then flew to the West Coast and started again. Over the next three months, I rode across Western Canada back home to Ontario. The trip was very freeing. It was also a great time to think and be retrospective about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

I took up running in retirement, started taking Spanish lessons and have been experimenting a lot more with my cooking. I also recently bought a motorcycle and have been touring around on it. I describe myself as a “seenager.” The word “senior” doesn’t do it for me, but now I have everything a cool teenager could want. I enjoy being busy, but the difference now compared to when I was working is that I’m doing things for myself versus doing them for a salary.

Still, my retirement has had some challenges. My wife and I separated a year ago, after 37 years of marriage, so that’s been tough on everyone, including our two grown sons. I often tell others that you never know what will happen in retirement, so it’s a good idea to consider all eventualities. On the bright side, I started dating again, which I enjoyed. I recently started a new relationship with someone who is very active like me, which has been exciting.

I’ve been very busy in retirement – and can honestly say that I’ve never been happier. I’m starting to think about doing some volunteering now as well. Retirement has given me a chance to do a lot of things I never had time for while working full-time, but after a couple of years of it, I feel like I need more of a purpose. I want to contribute something to society. I don’t know what that something is yet, but I still have a lot of energy, so I should. The best part about being retired is that I have time to figure out what that next thing will be.

As told to Brenda Bouw. This interview has been edited and condensed.

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