Take Care of Yourself First in Retirement

When you retire you become personally responsible for your own happiness. How you spend your time and what you do is up to you. The freedom you feel can be refreshing, liberating and inspiring. However, if your retirement journey does not go the way you hoped, who is to blame? Your retirement happiness rests in your hands. Here’s what you can do to maximize your chances of setting up a successful retirement.

Don’t get caught up doing things you don’t want to do. When the world learns you have free time on your hands, everyone will be knocking at your door. There is no limit to the number of worthy causes that will try to enlist you to do your part. Grown children will quickly translate your new freedom into an always open babysitting service available at their beck and call. Even a “honey do” list might get a bit out of control. It will be up to you to ration your time in a manner that satisfies you as well as the world around you. Learn to be selective and say “no”.

As we age we need to maintain and expand our social network. It is important to interact with others and get involved. But if you really do not want to attend a particular dinner party or if the thought of attending the next symphony bores you, why force yourself to go? At a time when you are finally in charge of your calendar, choose what you want to do, not just what you feel obligated to do. This is your chance to look forward to your social life rather than dread it.

Set your own priorities. While on the job you typically focus on the things most important to your boss. Chances are you do not even have much input. Now that you are retired you get to do what is most important to you. Put goals at the top of your list that you consider the most important and also the most fun. Why not focus your attention on what you really enjoy? You can worry about less significant goals later.

It’s OK to do nothing. Many of us find ourselves occasionally overwhelmed with all we have to get done and seemingly impossible deadlines. The thought of taking a break feels like an impossible dream. But in retirement it is OK to do nothing. In fact, finally getting tobeautiful blond kid blow dandelion outdoor do nothing is an important part of retirement happiness. Look for the right mix of meaningful activities and serious downtime that best compliments your retired lifestyle. This balance can help keep you engaged and challenged while providing ample time to recharge and reset.

Keep active in mind and body. If we do not exercise our minds and bodies, they will not continue working the way we want them to. Obviously the biceps of a 65-year-old will not be as impressive as those of a 25-year-old, but that does not mean we cannot strive to be as fit as we can at any age. Exercising our bodies, challenging our minds, stretching beyond our comfort zone and keeping engaged with life are important ingredients for a healthy retired lifestyle. To give your mind a good workout, keep learning new things. Try to challenge your brain by learning a new language, signing up for a class, expressing your artistic side or taking a shot at something you have never done before. Each of these activities will challenge your brain to perform new tasks.

Enjoy the little things. With your calendar only as busy as you make it, retirement affords the opportunity to appreciate small moments that are frequently overlooked while caught up in the frenzy that life can be. This is your chance to slow down and take it all in. I love spending my mornings in the backyard with a nice cup of coffee and watching the sun moving up through the trees as it warms away the night coolness. Hummingbirds chase one another for the right to the feeder while my two cats vie for attention at my feet. This gradual start with time for reflection helps me prepare for the day ahead. Living at a less hectic pace helps me to take in the little details that make a moment special.

Written for my blog on US News & World

How to Tell When It Is Time To Retire

If you find yourself stuck in the day-to-day grind of making a living, thoughts of retirement can be sweet. Imagine leaving behind the stress of the job and pursuing whatever interests you. You could start each day only when you are good and ready to. Picture the ability to set a pace that fits your mood and state of mind for that particular day. One day you may awake feeling like going at a mellow pace while the next you are energized and ready to check things off your to-do list. When you retire, you make the rules.

The move to retirement is a big decision, and it’s difficult to know when you are truly ready to begin your second act. You obviously need to have your financial affairs in order. Unless you plan to work in some capacity, you need to have enough saved to support the lifestyle you hope for over the next 20 or more years. True financial security is difficult to achieve given the volatility of the stock market and the unpredictable nature of our health.

And even if you do have a sufficient nest egg saved, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right time to retire. It is just as important to prepare for the non-financial aspects of your future. Here are some signs it may be time to consider retirement.

Your job takes more than it gives. Some people are fortunate to find themselves engaged in a career they enjoy. Each new day is filled with promise and challenge. There’s no reason to leave simply because you reach a certain age. But other people find themselves exhausted from a long and demanding career and tired of the routine they must drag themselves through every day. When a job is just about the paycheck the days can seem without end. Add in a few health problems and every day can feel like an uphill battle. In these situations you need to weigh the costs against the benefits of staying. The additionalDSC_0429 dollars earned are not always worth it. Staying at a demanding career beyond what makes sense could adversely impact your ability to enjoy retirement.

You cannot wait to explore new horizons. While some people find it challenging to stay busy in retired life, others cannot wait to pursue a myriad of interests. Freed from the endless hours spent at the office, they are ready to do what they enjoy most. Retired days offer the opportunity to revisit old hobbies and explore new interests. To-do lists can be filled with interesting and meaningful activities. Retirement can be a time to give yourself free reign to do as you please and pursue whatever interest sparks your curiosity.

You want to explore a different career path. Some people are happiest when they are on the job. They enjoy being part of a team, making a contribution and facing new challenges. For them, staying part of the working world is how they choose to live their second act. If you want to continue working beyond retirement age, this stage in life may allow you to explore a different career that is more in line with what you care about most or find most satisfying. If you could be doing whatever job you wanted, what would it be? Retirement could be your chance to fill in the blank.

You want to live an active retirement. You will never be younger than you are today. Now is the time to take advantage of your relative youthfulness. In later years, activities like travelling can become more challenging. If you want to live an active retirement, it’s a good idea to tackle the most difficult activities while you are still able to. Take advantage of being as young as you will ever be.

From my weekly blog for US News & World