3 Steps to the Good Life in retirement

From an early age we hear rumors of a state of all encompassing happiness that though elusive is a worthy goal of all beings – the Good Life. All of our efforts and sacrifices directed toward achieving this magical state are well worth the cost. And who in their right mind would not want to live the Good Life?

Richard Leider, renowned coach and author of “The Power of Purpose” defines the Good Life as having the following four key components:

(1)  Financial freedom (money)

(2)  Being mentally and physically healthy (medicine)

(3)  Creating deep relationships and a sense of purpose (meaning)

(4)  And feeling like you belong (place)

To maintain the Good Life, we need to constantly adjust, tweak and modify these variables to deal with changes in our lives and the lives of those we love. But it seems reasonable that with these elements in place, we would be pretty happily retired, entering each day with a positive attitude, motivated and glad to be alive. The Good Life = Golden Years – a natural extension. So how do seniors get there?

Recipe for the Good Life

As discussed in numerous prior posts, planning NOW is critical to achieving your goals in retirement life. The more time and effort you put today into what your retirement will look like tomorrow, the better prepared you will be to enjoy your time with less anxiety and stress. And it is not just me saying this: AIG Sun America found that those who prepared for retirement regardless of wealth or income tended to be the most satisfied. Without planning and preparation, you are gambling with your senior quality of life, effectively rolling the dice at a very bad time to roll craps.

In 2009, MetLife did a study focused on a group age 45 to 74 called “Discovering what matters: Balancing money, medicine, and meaning”.  Some helpful highlights from the study include the following:

  • The importance of purpose – people who believe there is purpose in their lives are happier and describe themselves as living the Good Life. “Having a reason to get up in the morning is associated in numerous scientific studies with better mental and physical health and greater longevity. Purpose can add not only to your life but life to your years”
  • Meaning-related activities are most important to people, and spending time with friends and family is at the top of the list. A busy career can stand in the way of nourishing important relationships but in retirement, you have the time and the need to grow them more fully. “If we had to name what makes life worth living, what gives meaning and purpose, most of us would probably say it’s the people we love. Relationships, along with work, are the core differences in quality of life at all ages. Whom we love and how we love them are in a way the core reasons we get up in the morning.”
  • Trigger events – along the way, most people experience challenges whether financial, medical, or spiritual. These trigger events require us to take a second look at our goals and vision of retirement and make adjustments. This ability to adapt is essential to dealing with bumps in the road and enables us to get back on track and move forward.

It sounds like the Good Life does in fact exist and with some effort on our part, we can hope to achieve it. And what a worthwhile goal to strive for! So today, not tomorrow, start down your path to the Good Life. It is not an easy journey and there is no guarantee. But when you do arrive, make sure to enjoy the ride.

Don’t forget to pick up a free copy of my Navigating the Retirement Jungle, available upon request by mailing to lovebeingretired@hotmail.com.


6 thoughts on “3 Steps to the Good Life in retirement

  1. I think that a successful retirement (obviously a subjective judgment) comes from feeling that you have a purpose. If you can’t think of any reason why it matters that you are still around then you are actually already dead (at least in spirit). I think that is why the planning is important because you don’t plan unless you have a destination. but no matter – even if you retired with no plan, you can still create one.

  2. I think you’re so right that we need a purpose in our retirement years and as we enter the second half of life, we actually have the time and inclination to pursue the idea of what makes us happy.

    What is really important? I think as we get older the answer to that question changes. Money is nice but to pursue your passion and purpose in life, you don’t necessarily need money or be hooked into the idea that you must make money from your passions in life.

    At our age, we should just be able to do what we want to do because we want to do it and for no other reason!

  3. I like the term “Trigger Events.” That is an excellent way to describe something that can cause a change in lifestyle or thinking.

    I just finished the book, It’s Not The End of The World. The author says that how we respond to these events is crucial in preventing stress from doing us in.

  4. My mother is in the process of moving to an independent living facility and I was over checking out her new apartment. There was this adorable lady we kept running into at the various book stations placed around the facility. I finally said, “You must be looking for a book.” She replied, “Oh, no, I’m working.” The manager explained her job was to keep all the books in order and that she worked very hard at it. There’s a myth that retirement is about taking it easy. This lady beamed that she had an important job to do.

    At retirementlifematters.com we’ve identified 5 ingredients to a successful retirement. in addition to purpose or meaning, there’s staying connected, challenges, well-being, and renewal.

    • Thanks Cathy. And I bet she is passionate about keeping those books in order! Something meaningful in your life each day goes a long way toward getting out of bed each morning.

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