When you shift into the retirement stage of life, you have many opportunities to set your own path. There are a variety of strategies you can use to set up a happy retirement. While health conditions and living situations can change, there are ways to make the most of your retirement at every step.
To achieve a happy retirement, consider following these guidelines:
— Set new goals.
— Live within your means.
— Find an outlet.
— Engage in brain games.
— Stay socially connected.
— Mend and renew relationships.
— Take on work, your way.
— Ask for help.
Set New Goals
You may have had firm objectives during your working years, such as striving toward a promotion or hitting a milestone for the number of years worked. During retirement, there can still be goals, which often serve to motivate you to accomplish tasks. “If you really want something, maybe a new romance, then take a concrete step in that direction,” says Ahron Friedberg, a medical doctor and clinical professor in psychiatry at the Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine in New York. “Don’t ever tell yourself that it’s too late.”
Live Within Your Means
If you don’t already have one, now may be the time to set up a retirement budget. “Our happiness is threatened when our financial security is threatened,” says James K. Noble, a certified financial planner affiliated with Nationwide Planning Associates in Paramus, New Jersey. “If you spent your life spending less than you earned, you are on your way to a happy retirement.” Set up a plan to pay off any lingering debts and make sure you have an emergency fund so that unexpected twists won’t cause financial upheaval.
Find an Outlet
Having someone you can talk with openly can help you avoid high levels of stress and anxiety. “Be ready to share your feelings, however unlikely they may seem,” Friedberg says. “The mere act of sharing is therapeutic. We feel less alone.” In addition, be ready to listen to others who want to express their sentiments. “Our brains are wired for empathy and exercising the capability makes us feel useful,” Friedberg says.
Stay Socially Connected
Marcia K. Morgan of Bend, Oregon, retired two weeks before the pandemic started. As she adjusted to the shutdown and retirement, she began participating in online weekly chats. “My weekly Zoom happy hour with a group of nine women friends, now in person, has helped me stay connected,” says Morgan, who is the author of “Should I Change My Name? The Impact of Your Last Name on Identity, Marriage, and Happiness.” The group now participates in group activities like hiking or going out to eat. If you’re not already involved in a senior club or regular social gathering, look for events in your area to have human interaction.
Engage in Brain Games
From reading books to online activities and apps, there are many ways to exercise your mental skills every day. “Go out and solve a hard problem,” Friedberg says. “You’ll remind yourself that you’re not losing it.” If you enjoy helping others learn, you might look for a part-time job or volunteer position to tutor students for several hours a week. Other ways to stay stimulated include participating in weekly card games or learning a new skill like piano or a foreign language.
Mend and Renew Relationships
If you live in the same area where you went to high school or college, it may be worthwhile to look up past friends and acquaintances. You could find you have common interests or that you are both looking for companionship. Also seek out family members and be ready to smooth over past hurdles that strained the relationship. “Connection with family is important, and the shaky connections are often salvageable,” Friedberg says.
[SEE: 10 Retirement Gift Ideas.]
Take on Work, Your Way
There are several approaches to stay active and find fulfillment after leaving a career. “Your retirement schedule should be less stressful and demanding than your previous one, but we don’t need to avoid all forms of work or service,” says Kevin Coleman, a marriage and family therapist, and founder and owner of Connected Therapy Practice in Columbia, South Carolina. “Find some work that you take pride in and find intrinsically meaningful.” You might care for grandchildren several times a week, volunteer at your church or care for elderly friends who need assistance. “Be sure to maintain flexibility so you can sleep in some mornings, take that trip you’ve always wanted to take and enjoy more rest than you have before,” Coleman says.
Ask for Help
Retirement often presents a time of freedom and flexibility. At first, it may be enjoyable to take care of your home and maintain your new lifestyle. If you reach a point where you aren’t able to continue doing everything on your own, it may be time to reach out. Family members could mow your lawn and bring groceries to you. Care companies can help with housekeeping and other activities you can’t do on your own. Requesting assistance can provide opportunities for you to connect with others, stay in your home and carry on with activities you love.
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