Take Care of Yourself First in Retirement

When you retire you become personally responsible for your own happiness. How you spend your time and what you do is up to you. The freedom you feel can be refreshing, liberating and inspiring. However, if your retirement journey does not go the way you hoped, who is to blame? Your retirement happiness rests in your hands. Here’s what you can do to maximize your chances of setting up a successful retirement.

Don’t get caught up doing things you don’t want to do. When the world learns you have free time on your hands, everyone will be knocking at your door. There is no limit to the number of worthy causes that will try to enlist you to do your part. Grown children will quickly translate your new freedom into an always open babysitting service available at their beck and call. Even a “honey do” list might get a bit out of control. It will be up to you to ration your time in a manner that satisfies you as well as the world around you. Learn to be selective and say “no”.

As we age we need to maintain and expand our social network. It is important to interact with others and get involved. But if you really do not want to attend a particular dinner party or if the thought of attending the next symphony bores you, why force yourself to go? At a time when you are finally in charge of your calendar, choose what you want to do, not just what you feel obligated to do. This is your chance to look forward to your social life rather than dread it.

Set your own priorities. While on the job you typically focus on the things most important to your boss. Chances are you do not even have much input. Now that you are retired you get to do what is most important to you. Put goals at the top of your list that you consider the most important and also the most fun. Why not focus your attention on what you really enjoy? You can worry about less significant goals later.

It’s OK to do nothing. Many of us find ourselves occasionally overwhelmed with all we have to get done and seemingly impossible deadlines. The thought of taking a break feels like an impossible dream. But in retirement it is OK to do nothing. In fact, finally getting tobeautiful blond kid blow dandelion outdoor do nothing is an important part of retirement happiness. Look for the right mix of meaningful activities and serious downtime that best compliments your retired lifestyle. This balance can help keep you engaged and challenged while providing ample time to recharge and reset.

Keep active in mind and body. If we do not exercise our minds and bodies, they will not continue working the way we want them to. Obviously the biceps of a 65-year-old will not be as impressive as those of a 25-year-old, but that does not mean we cannot strive to be as fit as we can at any age. Exercising our bodies, challenging our minds, stretching beyond our comfort zone and keeping engaged with life are important ingredients for a healthy retired lifestyle. To give your mind a good workout, keep learning new things. Try to challenge your brain by learning a new language, signing up for a class, expressing your artistic side or taking a shot at something you have never done before. Each of these activities will challenge your brain to perform new tasks.

Enjoy the little things. With your calendar only as busy as you make it, retirement affords the opportunity to appreciate small moments that are frequently overlooked while caught up in the frenzy that life can be. This is your chance to slow down and take it all in. I love spending my mornings in the backyard with a nice cup of coffee and watching the sun moving up through the trees as it warms away the night coolness. Hummingbirds chase one another for the right to the feeder while my two cats vie for attention at my feet. This gradual start with time for reflection helps me prepare for the day ahead. Living at a less hectic pace helps me to take in the little details that make a moment special.

Written for my blog on US News & World

Why Financial Security Is Not Enough

Many are convinced the secret to a successful retirement is saving enough money to build a sufficient nest egg that can subsidize life as a happy retiree. Financial pundits, self-assured magazine writers and industry wise bloggers tout the importance of getting to that right number to make your retirement dreams come true. If you save enough it will come. Although we can agree that money is an important ingredient, I fear this tunnel vision obsession is a mistake. Rather than guarantee that perfect retirement, it fails to address an equally important piece of the puzzle.

It’s not always easy to get a handle on living the retired life that is a best fit for you. Since the lifestyle you choose and situation you live is unique to you there is no formula or one size fits all solution to assure effective planning. It is up to each of us to do our due diligence and work through the specifics in hopes of coming to the best possible scenario that corresponds to our unique interests, passions and requirements. Enough money addresses part of the equation – agreed. But how do you prepare for the rest? What can you do to better assure you live a fulfilling and interesting and meaningful second act?

A reader of my blogs shares the challenge he faces doing his best to get ready for his nearing retirement: The interesting thing I’ve uncovered in my research is over 90% of the material out these is related to the financial aspects of retirement. Almost none of it deals with the soft issues, your emotions, expectations, and happiness in retirement. I take every opportunity to chat with retired folks to see how they are doing and get their advice and opinions.

Money is not the final answer. It can be a mistake to assume that once you have enough in the old bank account your retirement preparation is complete. There is so much more toHundertwasser Houses consider. What will you do to bring meaning to your daily life? How will you cope with the challenges that come with aging? What will you do to take care of yourself physically? How can you keep mentally sharp and engaged with life? What are your plans to integrate your new 24/7 life with your partner? Do you have enough hobbies and interests and passions for the coming decades?

I believe it is possible that having what you believe is a sufficient amount of money to live your second life might even lull you into a false sense of security. Let’s say you have enough to pay the bills and do what you want – excellent! That is a good start. You have the money and you have the time and for the first year or so you will probably stay blissfully engaged. Attack that to-do list, visit those faraway places you have patiently collected information in your bulging travel folder, spend time with your neglected hobbies, and just chill in the backyard. But what comes next? After the honeymoon period comes to an end and you stare down the road at 20 or 30 more years to entertain yourself, what is the plan?

The sooner we start planning the non-financial side of retirement, the better our chance to realize the life we have hoped for. One reader of my blogs comments: I am starting my retirement adventure on January 1st. It is clear that although I have financially planned for my retirement, I have not accounted for what I want to do. That is the challenge I am facing now. I just started researching the subject today and started a list of all the things that I can think of. I am up to 32!

It is wonderful to realize the importance of finding those “what to do” activities. But it is a bit scary the search has not started much earlier. If you are going to spend 20 years in retired living, shouldn’t you put in a proportionate amount of preparation? It is a mistake to put more time and effort into preparing for a two week vacation than into a two decade retirement. Don’t just hope for the best take action to make it so. I have been retired for one year and need some guidance on how to put passion into my retirement life’s goals and dreams. I’m floundering and didn’t realize I needed to plan for my new acquired uncommitted time.

Having enough money does not guarantee the retirement we want and hope for. Too much focus on finances can be a big part of people’s unhappiness. Living a happy retirement requires a balance between money and those equally important non-financial aspects of daily life. Take care of the essentials, but realize there is so much more to living happy. Remember time is like a coin – you can spend it any way you want but you can only spend it once. Enjoy…