Ingredients of a Happy Retirement

The retirement we ultimately decide to live is personal. Within the parameters of our individual financial situation and current health status, how we choose to live is up to us. We manage our days. We fill the calendar. We are in control.

Retirement affords the unique opportunity to become the person you want rather than the person you are supposed to be. The trick is to figure out who that is as soon as possible. As Zane Grey said, “we’re burning daylight.”

Everyone has advice to give. Friends generously share specifics of their retired life, perhaps bragging a bit, maybe complaining a tad. Books enumerate the good and bad pointing out pitfalls and pinnacles you are likely to encounter. Retirement bloggers share their journey as they learn to navigate their individual retirement jungle. Each source sheds some light on what it means to live retired 24 hours a day seven days a week. Yet none of these sample cases is necessarily how YOU will live your retirement. Your path to retirement is yours to blaze.

When it comes to the manufacturing the perfect retirement I don’t believe there is a generic one-size-fits-all recipe. We are different people. Our interests are all over the map. What excites you may bore the pants off me and visa versa. Each of us is responsible to find our respective way. How we get there is not always easy to predict. Plan on taking some missteps along the way but keep going.

And who wants a “perfect retirement” anyway? Perfect anything requires an attention to detail that has no place in the free flying life we can experience as retirees. It sounds like unnecessary stress if you ask me. I prefer to view retirement as a work-in-progress, a continually changing experience where we weed out what we don’t enjoy and add in what we love. What works one day may not another – that’s perfectly fine. It should be about making the most of each day. And the awesome reality of retirement is you get to decide exactly what that “most” consists of.

Retirement is an evolution. The person we are five years down the line is not the same person we were at the beginning. We learn, adapt, try a little of this, experiment with a little of that, and slowly learn how to make the most of our second act. That intensity and drive that was part of the working me has morphed into a more mellow go-with-the-flow retired me. I think my wife appreciates the change. I know my heart doctor does!

I write this blog from a little two-seater rocking chair, looking out my front door at my recently pruned roses whose healthy shiny leaves are beginning to return for a new season. A wind chime softly tones while a single bird twitters in the tree perhaps chiding the barking dog down the way. After weeks of rain – a rare occurrence in the Valley – the sun is out, the temperature is warm, and the sky is blue. Does it get any better?

Earlier today my wife and I went to Trader Joes – we love that place. We wander the isles finding intriguing new offerings along with our basics like fruit, veggies, bread, nuts, etc. My latest discovery is the Herb Popcorn – talk about addicting. From there I drove a few miles down the road to take a 90 minute walk along the shoreline. The California coast is definitely my sweet spot. Combine one part majestic coastlines strewn with craggy rocks, add a dose of booming waves breaking mercilessly on said rocks, throw in a pinch of riotously blooming cacti, and last but not least include the possibility of spotting a breeching whale lingering on horizon – that is my recipe for inspiration. When at the ocean it feels life just makes sense. One of my favorite quotes: ”the voice of the sea speaks to the soul.”

I think living a happy retirement comes down to figuring out what you most enjoy and then doing it. Sure there are days when you don’t feel 100 percent – that is part of the program. But when you do feel good make the most of it. Don’t worry about what you used to be able to do – do what you can. Be forever curious – the world is amazing in so many unique ways. Take a chance and venture outside your comfort zone. Remember you are not obligated to do anything. If a new direction turns out not to be what you expected, abandon ship! Move on to the next adventure, the next hobby, the next challenge, and the next reason for living.

Living a happy retirement life is something we all hope to experience. Good luck on your journey.

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About LoveBeingRetired

Dave Bernard is a California born and raised author and blogger with an extensive 30 year career in Silicon Valley. He has written more than 300 blogs for US News & World On Retirement and his personal blog Retirement – Only the Beginning. He has authored three books: "Are you just existing and calling it a life?"; "I want to retire! Essential Considerations for the Retiree to Be"; and " Navigating the Retirement Jungle". Dave was also a contributing writer for the books 65 Things to do when you Retire (“Positive Aging – Old is the New Young”) as well as 65 Things to do when you Retire – TRAVEL (“Travel to Discover your Family Heritage”). He lives in sunny California with his wife, his Boston Terrier "Frank" and a passion for the San Jose Sharks.