Written by Kevin Patel
Retirement is meant to be enjoyed. According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, the over-55s are one of the population groups with the highest sense of well-being, and it tends to get better until the mid-80s. There are of course plenty of reasons (and plenty of exceptions) but having time to pursue your own choices is high up there.
Retirement is a great opportunity to take stock. You will have to face the fact that you probably don’t have the money to do all the things you once dreamed of, but you do have the time to discover more things.
You also have the time to put your affairs in order, looking to the longer term, and even filing your intentions about funeral planning services.
Be realistic about the challenges. All that time is not going to fill itself—or if it does you are going to regret it ten years from now. So flag up the key things that will make these years special.
Why not? The problem with work before was that you were driven by all sorts of constraints. Now you have skills that can bring you in a little extra cash, but you can set your own conditions and timetables. If no one wants to accept your terms, it’s no problem to you.
There is so much to learn out there, and with the internet there are so many free opportunities to discover more about the world. Coursera is a great resource where you can sign up for all sorts of academic subjects, from ancient history to astrophysics—you only pay if you want the qualifications. Your local library will also have resources for you to read and study at a level that suits you.
Take up some hobbies—the more the better. The happiest retirees are those who do not have enough time for all the hobbies they want to pursue. The best are the ones you will pursue with other people, as they provide that other essential ingredient, personal interaction.
A key ingredient to a happy retirement is good health, and a key ingredient to good health is exercise. Get out and walk every day, and have a daily routine of exercise that you can stick to. Join a club or a class to learn techniques appropriate to you.
Volunteering can incorporate all the requirements for a good retirement. Practical support for an organization whose aims you believe in can use your skills productively, teach you new things, introduce you to people with whom you can get along in a fun way, and keep you moving around. It’s a perfect combination.
Enjoy the Day
Retirement may be a stage in life when you have more to look back on than look forward to, but that does not mean that the things ahead are of any less value. In the history of humanity, to have got this far means that you are already one of the luckiest people who have ever lived. There is no reason that should change now.
Kevin Patel is a personal finance consultant who has a lot of experience in working with people to better their life when they reach retirement. He shares his tips online in his articles which appear on personal finance blogs mostly.