7 Ways to a Happier Retirement
Picture this—it's Friday afternoon, your work is done, and you have the weekend ahead of you. But what makes this weekend different than any other weekend is the two-week vacation following it. You wish your colleagues well, they express similar thoughts, and you head toward freedom.
Of course, you're excited! Travel, new experiences, time away from the mundane, and time to recharge.
In the back of your mind, you know it's temporary and you'll be back at your desk before you know it. Maybe that's part of the reason why the time away is special. It's short-lived.
Now, let's take this another step.
This vacation is permanent. You are saying your final goodbyes. When Monday comes you will get up when you feel like it. No more alarm clocks. You'll never head back to that office again.
For some, you've already experienced your last day at work. For others, it is a goal but not a reality. At least not yet. I'm talking about retirement of course.
One of my goals as a financial advisor is to put you on a path to reaching your financial dreams. We take a holistic approach that encompasses many aspects of financial planning.
But what happens when you've reached those goals and you have the resources to retire comfortably? Just because you're financially well-off doesn't mean you are ready to embrace what can be a drastic new lifestyle.
Let's explore some of the non-financial aspects of your transition.
A recent story featured on CNBC.com stated, "Happiness in retirement is about more than account balances." Sure, money is part of the equation. It reduces stress that can be brought on by inadequate finances.
But those whose identity is wrapped up in their work, especially for those who have built their company from the ground up, retirement can be an uncertain transition. Many of you delay retirement, opting to work well into your 70s or even 80s.
A 2013 British study cited in the aforementioned CNBC article showed that retirement may actually increase the risk of depression by 40%. Think about it–your routine has been interrupted, and the bonds you've formed with your co-workers will forever be changed.
All of this can have substantial implications for your health. So, please, don't overlook the psychological implications that may inevitably be a part of retirement.
Many of you are taking steps to ensure your financial well-being long after you retire. But retirement is much more than just finances.
- If possible, transition into retirement.
Recall the scenario above. You've worked a full week, it's Friday, but you'll never go back to work. It sounds enticing, especially if your job is just that…a job. However, a recent Transamerica study found that 61% of American workers hope to transition into retirement by shifting from full-time to part-time. Yet, only 25% said their employers offer such options.
A study last year by Merrill Lynch noted that 47% of retirees have either worked or plan to work in retirement, and 72% of pre-retirees say they want to work in retirement. Simply put, if you want to work or feel you need to supplement your retirement income, you aren't alone.
If your firm offers a flexible schedule, seriously consider it. If not, could you contract on a project-by-project basis, consult, or find part-time employment elsewhere. It will not only keep you busy, it will keep your mind sharp and supplement your retirement income.
- Talk to your spouse or partner.
This is critically important. What do both of you want to get out of retirement? How can you get on the same page? How much time will you be spending together?
In the past, you've been apart during your weekdays. But that will change. Find ways to integrate each other into your daily lives through activities that you both enjoy. But you may also want to spend time with your own friends and family. Consider mixing things up. Variety really can be the spice of life.
- Set New Goals.
You are embarking on a new venture. But unlike decades of work, your new life won't have the structure it had before. That can be disorienting for many, creating drift, depression, and possibly magnifying health issues.
Consider coming up with an outline or schedule of activities. Having a daily or weekly plan can help prevent loneliness. Keeping active via part-time work is one option. Another–volunteer. What are your passions? Who or what cause would you like to assist? Your church or a familiar community organization can benefit from someone that has years of experience in the business world and decades of accumulated wisdom. In addition, volunteer work helps expand your social network, a network that can quickly fray when you no longer have the comradery that your current job offers.
- "Eat well, sleep soundly, and play often."
That's the advice from veteran career coach Bill Ellermeyer. Bill says, "Happily retired people treat themselves like a good friend. They keep themselves well-fed, exercise at least three times a week, get proper rest, and maintain strong social connections."
He's right. Don't isolate yourself. Stay active.
This is a subset of number four. Keeping busy enhances your mental capacity. If you can, incorporate some type of physical activity into your weekly regimen. If walking on a treadmill bores you, take short hikes or walks in the park. If it's something you enjoy, you're more likely to engage in that activity.
- Play with your grandchildren.
If you have grandchildren, time with them is time well spent. That is something you intuitively know, but it's also backed by research from the Institute on Aging at Boston College.
"The greater emotional support grandparents and adult grandchildren received from one another, the better their psychological health," said Sara M. Moorman, an assistant profession at Boston College.
- Finally, retirement isn't a time to slow down.
It's a time to redirect your path and embrace new experiences. Take charge and don't let circumstances dictate your future. It's the key to a happy and fruitful retirement.