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 firstname.lastname@example.org.