Retirement should be an amazing time. Prepare to explore new interests, savor quiet moments, experience for the first time the true meaning of stress free, take full advantage of mid-week specials and in general live life in a way that best suits you. What is it like to control how you spend your time, to do what you want when you want? Won’t it be glorious to find out!
We all deserve to live the dream. So how do we?
After a decade of comments from readers, diverse feedback from fellow retirees and lessons learned navigating my own retirement I believe the key to a successful migration from work to a happy retirement is preparation. Don’t hope to just flip a switch and smoothly move to retired life. It takes effort, planning, adaptability, curiosity, perseverance and patience.
Retirement is a transition
Over the years I have heard from many negotiating the passage from fulltime work to fulltime retirement. A common theme is challenges abound. Big changes in lifestyle take time to negotiate. And the move into retirement is a big change.
Who will you be once you exit your career? Many define their essence – who they are – based upon their work role. Leaving that behind can prove confusing and dismaying. The job always sort of told you what you should be doing. Once retired your time is truly your own – do you know what you will do?
When it comes to retirement we have no past experience to draw from. This is the first time we are doing it. You may discover early on that your expectations of how things will be are not exactly on target. Learning to adapt is a valuable skill for the new retiree and the old retiree as well. If one path does not pan out, don’t fret – try another.
The successful retiree asks important questions before retirement arrives, hopefully staying ahead of the game with a little foresight. Answers don’t always come quickly or easily but it is important to ask sooner rather than later.
Get used to the fact it will take time to find your retirement groove.
Retirement can be lonely
No matter how well you prepare there will be moments when you feel alone. I think this is typical at any stage in life but maybe felt a bit more acutely once you retire. Prior to retirement should you find you feel alone you need only wait until Monday to return to the comradery of co-workers. Not so once you retire.
To varying degrees we are all social creatures. While for the most part I happily savor silent moments by myself my wife appreciates more interaction with others. Even I realize without engaging I get a little slow. The old brain loses its resilience. After a few years into retired life I found I needed something more, something stimulating to fire up my routine.
For both of us a part time job fit the bill. The missus keeps active working at a local law firm while I spend three days a week pouring wine. Both of us get the interaction we need and have far better stories to share at the end of the day.
A part time job works for us but may not be your thing. Whatever your remedy retirement is more fun when you share moments with others. There are clubs, volunteer opportunities, mutual interest groups, and neighbors. My wife has a group of friends that regularly get together to hike nearby parks. Keeping active helps avoid boredom. Having someone to share with – ups as well as downs – is rewarding and just plain healthy.
It’s up to you to fashion a unique retirement
We are different people with diverse wants and needs. Each possesses a unique blueprint for what makes us truly happy. In retirement we begin building a foundation for that life best fitted to our individual passions.
What will your retirement look like?
You might discover useful tidbits from current retirees happy to share specifics of their own journey. It helps to know where they experienced challenges – perhaps you can avoid repeating the same. Understanding what works for them might give insight into similar avenues for you.
Plenty of retirement information is available via numerous books and blogs and magazines. Typically you will find useful nuggets of insight to assist in your journey.
But I have found no one else’s retirement is a perfect prescription for me. Decisions of how I want to live, what I want to do, how I want to do it are all uniquely mine. I entered retirement with certain preconceived notions of what to expect. Many proved far from reality. But that is okay.
It is in the ability to adapt and adjust that my retirement has evolved and improved. Today I am at the point where my days are occupied doing things I like. I am no longer driven by a need to succeed but instead just enjoy the moments. My wife and I share common interests but also have our own and we allow each other the freedom to pursue those individual diversions. I look forward to each day free from stress and happy to be alive.
For me that happiness is what a successful retirement is all about. I expect things will continue to evolve as the years add on and my tastes and interests change. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring but I am curious and optimistic.