Many people struggle to find happiness in retirement. Gone are the days when people would retire based on their age and then spend a brief period of life paying bills and watching TV before they die. And unfortunately, their short life in retirement did not look a whole lot different from their working years.
Luckily, that retirement lifestyle is not appealing to new retirees anymore. But if you want the final years of life to be a happy and fulfilling time, then you need to plan for it accordingly.
Most of us would like to retire at a certain age and stop working. Others would prefer to keep working as long as they can. There are still many people who plan to get a part-time job so they can transition to retirement.
The way your retirement looks will depend on your personal priorities and choices.
Here is the list of the top 4 key ingredients to make your retirement a success story:
1. Being healthy
Health becomes the most important part of our happiness in retirement as we grow older. If you want to stay active, you need to be healthy and fit.
The healthier you are the more you will be able to do with your free time.
During the years of working and raising a family, it is so easy to let your fitness slide. There is not enough time for everything so many of us allow our weight and diet to decline.
But once you have retired you will have plenty of time to improve your physical health and fitness.
Stay in shape.
There are still many retirees who spend days lying on a couch watching TV and snacking. Some people gain weight during retirement because they are not active. As a result, they begin to eat more because they are bored.
Being overweight and lack of exercise put retirees at great risk of many chronic diseases such as diabetes, stroke, cancer, and heart disease.
Importance of regular exercise.
We all know that eating healthy and exercising regularly is important. But research shows how it is especially important to retirees.
I just read that the recent study proved that regular exercise had the biggest impact on whether or not the participants developed dementia.
Exercise can take many forms – jogging in the mornings, hiking in the woods, biking to the grocery store, taking yoga classes, swimming in the lake. If you find a workout or physical activity that you enjoy, you should stick to it for a long time.
Many books and videos can help you to do a workout from the comforts of your home. But you can still join a gym or take group fitness classes if you want to exercise with others. Do not be afraid to try something new such as Pilates, Kickboxing, or Zumba.
This winter Roman and I started exercising more at home. Our daughter sent us a link to a wonderful home workout on YouTube. It only takes us 30 minutes to follow the workout playlist any time we want.
But I have already noticed that I started to feel more fit and energetic. After working from home for so long and gaining extra 10 pounds I hope I will lose more weight and stay in shape with regular workouts.
Besides exercising and staying fit, my other goal is to eat healthy. I am not living on a diet as I used to do when I was in my 30s and 40s. I just created a very simple plan and start taking consistent mini- steps every single day.
This winter’s goal is to cut on sugar. I stop buying any sweets regularly (even I have a sweet tooth) – no candies, chocolate, cookies, or pastries. Not having any sweets in our pantry helped me cut on sugar and develop a healthy habit.
Focusing on one healthy habit at a time keeps your health goals much more achievable.
2. Having a financial security
We all want to have the financial freedom to do things we love in life. Thus, financial security is one of the key ingredients having a happy and successful retirement.
The fear of not having enough to cover living expenses and outliving your money is one of the biggest worries of retirees and pre-retirees.
Good life costs money. You do not need to be rich to have a happy life, but you still need enough money to finance your retirement lifestyle.
As I have already explained in many of my articles, you need to figure out how much you actually need to retire and live a comfortable life. Obviously, that is a different amount of funds for everyone!
If you are close to retirement, have a clear snapshot of your retirement funds and where your money is going today. It can help you take control of your spending and saving habits.
If your numbers show that you will be able to cover living expenses and have enough left over to live a comfortable life, then you are on the right path. But if you have a significant shortage of funds you will need to cut your spending, save more, or even work for a few extra years.
Here are a few related posts you might want to read:
3. Having a purpose in retirement life
I like to think that we all should retire to something and not from something.
Retiring to escape your job will not bring your happiness. You need to have something on your calendar that you are passionate about and makes you get up every morning.
Find hobbies and interests to fill your days.
I believe that everyone had some interests in life before they were forced to put it on a shelf during their working years. However, retirement gives you a new opportunity to start over again by pursuing your passion.
Do not consider yourself as ‘retired from life’. Refocus your energy on learning something new and more interesting than your previous job.
If you do not know what to do with your time in retirement, here are a few helpful articles you might want to read:
Expand your horizons.
These days traveling is a number one goal for most retirees.
Many people look forward to traveling after they retire because they are no longer are limited by the number of vacation days. You can go whenever you like for how long you want.
Many people (including myself) look at retirement as the best time of their lives, a time for adventure and travel. I believe that one of the biggest benefits of retirement is the freedom to explore the world and expand your horizons.
In today’s world, a new generation of adventurers has emerged – senior travelers. They are brave, resilient, and excited about fulfilling their childhood dreams.
Career obligations, family life, and financial matters prevented them from actually doing it. But retirement brings freedom, and they do not wait any longer to explore the world.
Do you have a retirement bucket list?
I have found it useful to create my retirement bucket list. That is a list of things I want to do and see in our local area and other countries.
I like to keep my bucket list updated with the name of new places I learned and the dates we want to travel there. Most of the time, Roman and I feel excited when discussing our travel plans and the places we want to visit.
A few ideas from my retirement bucket list:
- Live in Paris for three months
- Learn the French language
- Plan the three months road trip across Italy
- Take cooking class in Spain and learn how to cook paella
- Write an e-book and self-publish it
- Visit Brazil during the carnival and learn how to dance salsa
- Learn how to grow a vegetable garden
- Go on a Safari in Africa
Here are a few related posts you might want to read:
- Retirement Travel Tips for Planning a Vacation
- How to Travel the World in Retirement
- How to Travel on a Budget in Retirement
Learn something new.
Many pre-retirees are afraid to be bored in retirement, and I can relate to that feeling.
Most of us spend our lives dedicated to responsibilities. We often forget how to live outside of our comfort zone.
I read that learning something new every day is an important part of personal growth. Retirement gives us the freedom to get out of that comfort zone and add something new to life.
If you are getting ready to retire, think about how to structure your days. Plan to allow yourself of trying something new and even uncomfortable like going back to school or learning a new language.
Here is a list of ideas:
- Learn how to play a musical instrument
- Start (or join) a book club
- Learn how to paint
- Take a pottery class (a photography class)
- Take a cooking or baking class
- Write a poem or an e-book
- Learn new digital skills – open an Instagram or Twitter account.
4. Spending time with friends and family
Retirement can be a challenging time for relationships.
When you stop working you will leave most of your friends at work behind. You have spent many hours with colleagues at work. Unfortunately, many will disappear from your everyday life the day you leave. It will take a lot of effort from both sides to keep friendship, once the common purpose of work is gone.
Growing older could be lonely unless you have support, love, and even friendship from your family.
Do you have a good relationship with your spouse If you are married? Are you close to your children and their families? Do you spend enough time with your grandchildren?
Ask if you can go to the game or concert with your kids and grandkids. Consider a family vacation together. Spend all holidays and other celebration times together.
Do you stay connected with other parts of your family like your brothers or sisters? Do you keep in touch with them regularly if they live far away? What effort do you make to stay in touch with them?
Unfortunately, many of us spend more time on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter to stay informed and connected with former classmates or colleagues because they post often rather than spend time with people who are important to us.
I recently read that one of the greatest regrets of people who are getting closer to the end of their lives is that they didn’t spend enough time with their loved ones.
Life is short! Make sure that you spend enough time with the most important people in your life.
What is the most important part of your retirement? Share your thoughts and ideas with us in the comments.
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