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July 13, 2022

Dr. Riley Moynes -The Four Phases of Retirement

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Riley and I talk about retirement, what to expect when the times comes. We discuss the psycholgical changes one goes through an the good and not so good parts of retirement.

TED Talk:


Web site:


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Disclaimer: Unedited AI transcript

Announcer (00:06):

You are connected and you are listening to specifically for seniors, the podcast, for those in the remember when generation today's podcast is available everywhere you listen to podcasts. And with video specifically for seniors, YouTube channel. Now here's your host, Dr. Larry Barh.

Larry (00:39):

Our guest today on specifically for seniors is Dr. Riley Moynes. Dr. Moynes is a former financial advisor and now retiree Ted speaker, author, podcaster, and workshop presenter. Welcome to specifically for seniorsRiley.

Riley Moynes (00:58):

Good morning, Larry. Nice to be here. Thanks for thanks for inviting me.

Larry (01:02):

Hey, it's good to have you, can you tell us a little bit about your background pre retiring?

Riley Moynes (01:09):

Yeah, sure. I spent the first 20 years of my working professional career in public education I taught in the classroom for a while and was an administrator over the years and moved around a little bit in in, in that profession. And then 20 years in, I decided that I was in need of a change, wanted to change. And so I I left that that role and I got involved in the financial services industry. I was interested in helping people to do better than they might have otherwise. I thought that my teaching background could provide some context and some help in that regard and spent the next 20 years of my working career in financial services. I founded my own little firm and then we merged with some others and one thing led to another but 20 years of of advising clients on their finances, on their estate plans, all that kind of stuff.

Larry (02:11):

What did you, what did you teach?

Riley Moynes (02:14):

I taught history.

Larry (02:16):


Riley Moynes (02:16):

Taught history. Yes. At the secondary level. And I actually spent some time working at Canada's largest museum, the Royal Ontario museum in in Toronto, taught in the galleries there, the Greek and Roman galleries, the Egyptian galleries, the Chinese galleries. It was a very exciting time.

Larry (02:34):

Oh, that sounds like yeah. Great fun too.

Riley Moynes (02:37):

Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Larry (02:39):

So you used to help your financial clients prepare for retirement. Yeah. But there's another equally important part of retirement that's often overlooked, correct?

Riley Moynes (02:52):

Absolutely. And I was guilty of it. I, I, it didn't, it didn't TWI to me until I actually retired myself, found myself struggling in a way that I hadn't anticipated and tried to make sense of it all. And that's what led me on the journey to figure out that while everyone says you have to prepare to get re to prepare, prepare to retire financially. And of course you do what they don't tell you is that you also have to get ready psychologically. And that's what I discovered. And that's what I've devoted the last decade or so to trying to figure out and to help others to figure out.

Larry (03:33):

So you wrote a book about it and developed a Ted talk. Very impressive.

Riley Moynes (03:40):

Yeah. Thank you. Well and you know, the book was not the first step. I my background is history. So, you know, you look at, you look at what, you know, what are the other sources say? And, and so what I was applying that principle to financial services, I found that it was all about investments and insurance and estate issues. And again, all critically important things, but not what I was looking for. There was just really nothing that I could find that tried to address some of the psychological changes and challenges that most of us, that most of us experience. So that led me then to conduct close to a hundred interviews with retired people. And I, I asked them a series of questions and from that kind of evolved and developed my, my four phases, which seems to have met with some real acceptance. We've had a lot of positive response to the Ted talk, as you've mentioned. And my sense is that people are appreciative of the fact that there is more to retirement preparation than just the financial.

Larry (04:51):

So the name of the book and the Ted talk is the four phases of retirement. What to expect when you're retiring,

Riley Moynes (04:59):


Larry (05:01):

Phase one

Riley Moynes (05:02):

Phase one is what I call the vacation phase. And that's just what it's like. It's the sort of thing that most people assume retirement looks like it's their review of an ideal retirement, no more no more routine that you've lived your life by for 30 or 40 years, you do what you want when you want you perhaps do some more traveling. You spend some holidays, maybe you buy a sports car. Maybe you find a, a place in a warmer climate. All of that kind of stuff is part of phase one. And for me, the big surprise was that after about a year or two, I was bored stiff. And I was beginning to wonder as many do, is that all there is to retirement and it's not, but it was a shock when it, when it hit me.

Larry (05:58):

Yeah. My my vacation phase lasted about a month. Yeah. <Laugh> yeah. And then the boredom, as you said, comes in.

Riley Moynes (06:06):

Yeah. Yeah. And yet, interestingly, as I say, most people that I talk to their view of an ideal retirement is exactly that, and it will take a very short period of time. I mean, recognize that increasingly there's a very good likelihood that some of the people perhaps listening and watching today will spend one third of our lives in retirement, a huge change from 50 or 60 years ago when life expectancy was about 68 years. So there's a huge time period ahead of us. And we want to use it productively and meaningfully. And all of a sudden we run into this wall and we're bored stiff there's yeah. That's phase one.

Larry (06:48):

So what happens after that? Do you go to phase two?

Riley Moynes (06:51):

You go Mo most people, most people go to phase two and in phase two, there are a lot of bad things can happen in, in phase two. There are five significant losses that most people associate with phase two. People lose their routine well for a while. We think that's great. We like not to have a routine, but there's something in our genes that seems to make us need a routine of some sort or another. So we've lost the routine and, and that kind of gets to us. We've lost our identity. Many people identify with the role that they play in, in life, whether it's a teacher, an accountant, a dentist, a doctor, whatever it might be. And all of a sudden, you're no longer that person, you are just a guy or a gal in the street. The third loss is that is that we often lose many of the relationships that we had established at work.

Riley Moynes (07:49):

Those have become important to us in many cases. Many of those have led to lifelong relationships, friendships, and all of a sudden they're gone. And I know you can go back and have lunch with the boys or the gals every now and then, but it doesn't take long for you to realize that you're a fifth wheel, that you're no longer part of that group and that they have moved on. And I guess in a way you have as well then we lose a sense of purpose. Again, many people associate or link their, their, their jobs with their sense of purpose. And when the job is gone or their profession is gone, many people lose that sense of purpose. And finally a number of people acquire some power over the course of their working career, whether it be personnel or whether it be over budgets, whatever it might be. But all of a sudden that's gone too. So we don't see these losses coming and we don't expect them. And because they all kind of take place at once, it can be like, like you've been hit by a bus. It can be very traumatic. And the result is that according to the Mayo clinic, there is a 40% likelihood that when you retire, you will experience some, some aspects of clinical depression. Phase two is not a fun time,

Larry (09:11):

But fortunately this phase three,

Riley Moynes (09:14):

But fortunately at some point, most of us say to ourselves, say, I, I don't wanna go on like this. I can't live the rest of my life, perhaps a third of my life feeling like this. And that's a good sign because when we do that, we are ready in some small way to move on. And so phase three is what I call the phase where where there's trial and error. And so phase three is when we begin to ask ourselves, how, how can I contribute again? What's gonna make me want to get up in the morning again. And so we begin to explore various options, various things that we might like to get involved with. But as I say, trial and error, and my experience, I think reflected in many of the interviews that I did was that there can be a lot of failure, a lot of things that just don't work.

Riley Moynes (10:11):

And yet we have to keep trying, but sooner or later, most of us or many of us discover that there are some things that we do well and that we love to do that have led to success in the past. And in that case, we are then ready to rewire to take some of the things that we've done well in the past. And it have led to success and perhaps apply them in different, in different fields. And when we can start to move in that direction and sense what that might be, that's when we're lucky enough, if we are to break through to phase four.

Larry (10:49):

So in phase three, it helps to have had hobbies and other interests outside of your routine work.

Riley Moynes (10:59):

Yes. my, my experience Larry is that, that not everyone goes through these four phases. I, I wouldn't, I wouldn't suggest that, but I do believe that 80 to 90% of people do the people who are somehow able to avoid in some cases, phase two. And in some cases, phase three are people, as you suggest who had developed hobbies or other activities throughout their working career. And for them, it's, it's an easier route from, from phase one to phase four, because they just continue to do what they have loved to do all their lives. Just maybe they've been able now to spend more time at that. And, and that's a wonderful thing to see when it, when it happens, but I, I believe it happens to a minority of people. Most of us seem to be doomed to deal with these four phases

Larry (11:51):

And the fourth phase.

Riley Moynes (11:53):

Well, the fourth phase, as I say, is when we kind of break through, I, I like to think of it as, as reinventing ourselves rewiring ourselves. And as I say, generally speaking, taking some of the things, some of the skills, some of the experiences that we that have led to success in the past and that and that we love to do. And if we can apply them in different situations that can provide tremendous satisfaction for people, whether it be, whether it be providing service on a volunteer basis or whether it's kind of starting an entirely new initiative, starting a new business all kinds of possibilities present themselves for people who are open to it.

Larry (12:38):

You use the expression, squeezing the juice out of retirement. Yeah.

Riley Moynes (12:43):

I think squeezing the juice is most likely in phase four. And that's when that group of people, I estimate between 50 to 60% of retirees who discover what it is that they want to do passionately for as long as they're physically able to do it. That's where people squeeze all the juice out of retirement. And again, whatever that might be, whatever activity that might be. I see these people who have found those activities to be the most joyful, but the, the happiest, the most fulfilled, the most satisfied people that I've ever met, their joy to be around.

Larry (13:28):

You had a friend named bill.

Riley Moynes (13:31):

Yes, yes.

Larry (13:32):

Who, who found that joy?

Riley Moynes (13:34):

Absolutely. He was a classic example. Bill is a friend of mine in, in a in, in our Florida community, our, our golf community and bill realized, although it is a golf community, primarily bill realized that, you know, there's more to life than golf and, and that he believed accurately that there were a number of people in our community who had tremendous expertise and experience. And he believed that if you ask those people to share that expertise and that experience in teaching others, they would agree to do so. And in fact, they did. And so he went around and he talked to people. He knew were good artists who were expert at expert bridge players, me players all kinds of activities, all kinds of skills that he assembled and put together with these offerings that people that people could, could use.

Riley Moynes (14:34):

And so in the first year we had, I think, nine offerings and about 200 people signed up the following year that, that, that the number of offerings grew grew to, to 45. And there were 700 people who signed up for these different activities. And then the following year, and in subsequent years, we now offer 90 to a hundred different wow programs. And, and we have over 2000 registrants and it's all done on a volunteer basis. People who teach, do so voluntarily people who come do so free of charge. And so the kind of vitality that has been brought as a result of Bill's insight and, and, and decision to do something exciting has led to just, just a great new level of activity and interest in our community.

Larry (15:26):

I noticed in going through your resume, that you presented a seminar to a dental group.

Riley Moynes (15:35):

Yes, that's

Larry (15:35):

Right now. I, I, I find it interesting as a retired dentist. Yeah. I was never exposed to that type of presentation. Yeah. But you mentioned in phase two, a loss of identity. Yes. Do you find that especially true of physicians and dentists?

Riley Moynes (15:57):

I'm not sure if, if it's especially true of that, of that group, but it, I mean, anybody, I think who took their, their, their responsibilities, their role, their, their, their jobs seriously miss it when they, when, when they retire. And I think that it may well be that, that some of the of, of those professions that the dental and medical, again, with, with such intense training and so much commitment to it, there may be a kind of a feeling of, of, of extra loss. I, I haven't been able to gauge that it was just more the idea that people miss their calling when it no longer is part of their daily routine.

Larry (16:37):

I was interested in this because as a dentist, a lot of my friends were dentists. A lot of my friends were physicians mm-hmm <affirmative>, and some cannot seem to assume a doctor, less identity

Riley Moynes (16:54):

<Laugh> well, I, I can appreciate that. And I, I know some examples of, of, of that. Yeah. I but back to the presentation to the dentist, again, a former colleague of mine in the financial services area has tended to specialize in working with dentists in, in helping them to prepare their financial affairs and to prepare for perhaps the sale of their practice, that all of that kind of support. And so he asked if, if I would be available to, to present specifically to some of his clients and was happy to do so with a very nice positive response.

Larry (17:37):

Yeah. Well, that's the financial end.

Riley Moynes (17:39):


Larry (17:40):

Yeah. But there has not been any psychological end to retirement of a profession.

Riley Moynes (17:48):

No. Well, that's really, that's the contribution that I hope that perhaps I can make to just recognize that there are psychological changes and challenges that will come, that these phases are largely predictable and that by knowing about them, that by having this framework, I know I certainly wish that I knew then what I know now about it, I'm better if, if I can put things in some kind of a context or framework, and that's really what I think the, the benefit or the value might be of, of the four phases and that it allows people to recognize kind of where they are. And to know that it it's part of a process it's likely a predictable part of the process. So for those who are retired, I'm hopeful that it can help them to kind of make more sense of it. And for those who are not yet retired, I'm hoping that it can provide a, a kind of a heads up so that they do perhaps have a better idea of what to expect than they than certainly I did, or that many people that I know. And that I worked with had,

Larry (18:56):

Let's talk about your follow up book. Mm-Hmm, <affirmative> the 10 lessons, how you can squeeze the juice out of retirement. Yeah. You write about 10 lessons that you've learned and talk with people about how they faced retirement.

Riley Moynes (19:10):

Yeah. the background Larry on this one was that I it was a, was a follow up people were asking me, well, you know what, what's next? And so what I decided to do was to go back and talk to a number of people who I considered to have been successful in breaking through to phase four. And I asked them really what, what, what advice they could give to others that would help them to get there as well. And through a number of, of interviews, again, I extrapolated these 10 lessons. It could have been more for sure, but these were the ones that seemed to keep coming up, keep coming out in, in our, in our discussions there in no particular order, they just are 10 concepts that, that people that kept coming up in our conversations.

Larry (20:07):

Can you give us an example of one or two?

Riley Moynes (20:10):

Sure. well, one of the, the, the first lesson in, in the book is identified as saying that the sand in the hour glass is running out. And so many of the people that I spoke to were just, just straightforward. You know, we, we know that our time is running out and we wanted just make the very best of the time that we had. And so rather than kind of ignoring it or acting as though they were going to go on forever, they were just straight up and said, Hey, we're we, we know what our time is limited. We're gonna make the best of it. Another one was that they, they felt that it's better to wear out than it is to rust out. And so, again, it implied this activity, this involvement, this passion, that many of them still still show and still display. But that was sort of a clear theme running through this. These people were doers. They were not Watchers. They were not, they were not coach potatoes. They were in the trenches doing whatever they could. So those are two examples of the 10 lessons.

Larry (21:21):

What sort of things did they do?

Riley Moynes (21:25):

Well many of them are, are volunteers, for example, there's a couple who volunteer who are actively involved in a local lawn bowling group. It it's a very social organization. They love to help people who want to become interested in the game. They, they teach them they're, they're around the the lawn bowling club almost, almost every day of the week. And and they teach and they play and they socialize and they love it. That's an example. Another example is a lady who used to be a university professor, and she has discovered that she is really quite good at, and she loves arranging flowers. This came as a, as a, as a revelation to her. She'd always been interested in gardening, but in the last couple of years, she's taken on this, this new role. And so she's been asked to, oh, prepare flower arrangements for her local church or for wedding events. And it's turned into a, a, a mini business for her who knew <laugh> two examples.

Larry (22:37):

Let's, let's clarify lawn bowling for a minute. You're in Canada. Yeah. Not in the United, which isn't particularly found in the United States. We're, we're more into pickle ball sort of things.

Riley Moynes (22:52):

Yes. Well, that's another good example. I I, I was part of a, a, of a, of an indoor pickle ball group earlier in the spring, before we could get outside. And there were three people in particular who had, first of all, created this local pickle ball association within the last year or so, they had helped it to, to, to grow. They were doing public relations work to inform more people about it. And they were running clinics that people could come to who wanted to learn to be pickle ball players, or to become better pickle ball players.

Larry (23:32):

I noticed in doing my research for this podcast, the phrase, the brain and the bicycle came up. Yeah. What does that mean?

Riley Moynes (23:42):

Well, that came from actually from my friend bill, who is doing the same fellow who organized all of our activities. He's he's a former teacher and very interested in, in in brain activity and how the, how brain activity can help keep not only our brains, but our body's young. He uses the analogy of, of a bicycle. And he said, first of all, that, you know, the, the human brain is designed and it's meant to plan and to work and to create. And he used the analogy of the bicycle. The bicycle is a, is a beautiful instrument, a beautiful tool. It's honed, it's built to go fast. It's it's efficient. And, and when it's operating at its highest level, it's moving along at a good clip, but when it slows down it becomes a little more difficult to manage.

Riley Moynes (24:42):

And of course, when it comes to a stop, it kind of flops on its side. And he uses that analogy with the brain. If you continue to use your brain, as it was intended to be used, you'll continue for a longer period of time than you might otherwise have. You'll continue to thrive, but if you let your brain idle, and if you just kind of put it in park or in neutral, it just isn't gonna function in the way that it was intended to. And I, I, I use that example in my, in my workshop and it seems to resonate with with people. So keep it moving, keep it working, do what it was designed to do for as long as possible.

Larry (25:24):

Tell us about your workshop.

Riley Moynes (25:27):

The workshop is based on the book. It's it, it lasts for about an hour it's it's interactive. And we, we work through as some of the background and some of the research that supports the development of the four phases. We try to spend as much time as, as possible, because I believe that as I say, between 50 and 60% of retirees breakthrough to phase four, I would like that number to be higher, and I'm doing what I can to make it higher. So what I include in, in the workshop Larry arson, what I call tools that can help people who might be caught up in phase two or phase three, not really knowing where to go. And I ask them to consider for a moment, something or things that they do really well and that they love to do.

Riley Moynes (26:24):

I find that a lot of people are not particularly introspective and I indicate, or I tell them that I think to get through to phase four, there is some introspection that is required. So we take some time in the workshop. People are, have worksheets that they can take away from it as well, to devote more time to, but I asked them to take some time and to identify 3, 4, 5 things that they love to do, and that they do really well. Then we talk about we move on to another tool that I, I found helpful, and I ask people to identify five of the big successes that they've experienced in their lives. Five success stories, five victories, five accomplishments, whatever it might be. And again, people often don't think about that, or they don't, they just don't think about it. So I ask them to do so.

Riley Moynes (27:18):

And then I ask them to place those two sheets of paper together, and to notice, or to draw to draw comparisons or parallels. And what the point of that exercise is to help people realize that some of the things that they love to do and do very well have led to these successes. People don't often make that connection, but it's an interesting connection because what I try to do then is to say, listen, take your skills, take the things that you love to do. They've led to success in the past, think of how they can apply to different situations in the future going forward. So if there's an area of the workshop that we spend a little bit more time on than some others, that would be it to help people try to get through breakthrough to phase four,

Larry (28:09):

Are the workshops online or in person?

Riley Moynes (28:12):

I have done a few of them online. They're just not the same as, as you know the they're, they're coming back. I'm happy to say I did a number of them. I was really quite active before the pandemic. And there have been some signs that people are interested again, and we have some things lined up for the fall. So certainly my preference where possible is to do those in, in, in person. And as a result of the Ted talk, I've had some people reach out from different parts of the world, actually to inquire about those workshops as well.

Larry (28:46):

Are those workshops done in Canada or Florida,

Riley Moynes (28:50):

I've done them. I've done them in, in both places. I I've, I've done them nationally here in Canada. And and with particular interest in Southwest Florida where our, our go, I mean, one of the one of the programs that I offer down there is this particular one is part of, as part of the iLife program that I referred to, that that bill had developed. So yes, I've done some of those in, in Southwest Florida as well.

Larry (29:18):

Are you still doing podcasts?

Riley Moynes (29:21):

Not at the moment. Again, I, I did, I think it was 20 podcasts and it was basically people who I believed were phase four folks who were squeezing all the juice. Again. I did all of those with one exception in person, which is my, my preference. And then when it came to a time when we couldn't do that in person for a while, they're kind of on hiatus. Although I do plan to pick them up into and to start again, when things open up a little bit more,

Larry (29:51):

I watched several of them. How do people find them? Because they were very interesting.

Riley Moynes (29:57):

Well, thank you for saying so people who might wanna watch them, they can they can visit them through my website, the four phases.com and the podcasts are are posted there and people can can view those as as they wish,

Larry (30:14):

The four phases.com,

Riley Moynes (30:17):

The four phases.com. Yes. Thank you.

Larry (30:20):

And your books. Yes. Where are they available?

Riley Moynes (30:23):

They're available on that same website, the four phases.com. And there's a tab where people can order the book if they wish. And we'd be delighted if they did. This

Larry (30:34):

Has been in lightning Riley. I really appreciate you coming on.

Riley Moynes (30:41):

I appreciate your invitation, giving me a chance to spread the word, which is my, my goal here.

Larry (30:47):

Have we missed anything?

Riley Moynes (30:49):

I think we've got it all. I know you're going to attach the the Ted talk to to your website. I appreciate that we've now had almost 700,000 views of the of the Ted talk. So clearly there has been a chord struck somewhere and people are enjoying, I hope as well.

Larry (31:11):

I am so impressed of anyone who can get up for 20 minutes without notes.

Riley Moynes (31:18):

<Laugh> oh, well, actually it was 12 minutes was the <laugh> was the time limit, but yes, it it was an effort. It was a, it was a, it was a, an adventure that I, you know, cuz the, the workshop takes about an hour and when they said to me Riley, we've gotta do it in 12 minutes. I, I just thought it wasn't possible, but I had some great coaching and practice, practice, practice, and it it came together.

Larry (31:46):

Riley, thank you again. Thank you so much.

Riley Moynes (31:50):

My pleasure, Larry. Thank you for inviting me. It's been a pleasure for me too. Bye for now.

Larry (31:56):


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