10 Components of a Happy Retirement

Financial preparations are an important component of any retirement plan. But money alone is not enough to live a satisfying retirement. Equally important is a plan to spend your time, develop relationships with others and maintain your health. Here are the important ingredients for you to realize the best possible retirement:

Enough money. Obviously, if you do not have enough saved and invested, you cannot realistically retire, at least not with the lifestyle you desire. But simply reaching a number in your retirement account is not the only aspect of retirement you need to plan for.

Having control over how you spend your time. One of the best things about being retired is the ability to decide what you want to do when you want to do it. This type of freedom is rarely experienced by those not yet retired. If you were to find yourself forced to live according to someone else’s expectations, retirement would be nothing more than an extension of your work years. But you get to leave behind other people’s rules as you begin to live your second act.

Spending quality time with family and friends. No longer finding yourself captive to boring meetings and meaningless interactions, you are now free to spend time with people you are actually interested in being with. And you are no longer limited to brief visits swinging monkeyssqueezed into a busy schedule. You have as long as you want to spend with whomever you choose.

Pursuing your passions, hobbies and interests. With the freedom to do as you choose, you can finally revisit the dreams and interests you were forced to put aside due to the demands of earlier life. And with enough interests and variety, you can prevent boredom and enjoy active stimulating days.

Giving back. Retirement can be your chance to express your charitable side and give back to society. Many retirees find volunteering to be a very rewarding experience. You are free to choose the causes most significant to you and make a difference in the lives of others.

Improving your relationship with your partner. Now that you have time to dedicate to the important matters in your life, the happiness of your spouse is an excellent place to start. You have time to spend with one another and rediscover the special person you fell in love with long ago. Although in some areas you may have changed over the years, some things never change.

Enjoying new experiences to broaden your horizons. You are no longer forced to live within the boundaries that defined the working you. The freedom to experiment and explore can open doors to interests you never knew you had.

Living a comfortable and safe life. Retirement is not always about searching for the next adventure. It also allows for the chance to relax, slow down and enjoy living at a pace more appropriate and comfortable for you. A balance between staying active and relaxing can keep you invigorated and ready for whatever comes your way.

Taking time for yourself. Downtime, the rarest of commodities for busy working folks, can now be yours in retirement. Taking time to think, relax, contemplate and dream can inspire you to live a more fulfilling retirement. Just remember that it is up to you to set aside the time and take advantage of your situation.

Maintaining good health. The freedom to do as you please affords the opportunity to refocus on healthy habits and practices. If you feel good it is easy to look forward to what the day has to offer. When it comes to healthy living, a regular routine that you can stick to can get you started in the right direction.

Assuming you are relatively satisfied with your nest egg and believe you can pay your way through retirement, it’s time to start thinking about the other aspects of retired life. In retirement you finally get the chance to do things your way. Make sure you include a plan for your health, relationships and passions.

From my blog on US News & World.

Lessons I Learned as I Prepare for Retirement

I have looked forward to retiring for years. The idea of having control of my time to do what I want sounds about as good at it gets. As an obsessively organized person who likes to have a bit of control over things, I am not comfortable adopting a wait and see attitude, especially when it comes to something as important as planning for my retired life. I don’t want to let retirement just happen. I want to do what I can to provide for the best second act possible.

About four years ago I began seriously researching retirement. I visited popular websites, read books, subscribed to newsletters and joined AARP in an effort to get a better handle on what was ahead. During the process I created a blog to share my discoveries and get feedback from those navigating their own personal retirement journey. What I have learned has caused me to adjust some of my initial perceptions and raised my optimism for the future.

I no longer fear being bored. When I first began planning for retirement, I was convinced that the biggest threat to my future happiness was becoming bored. I have always been an active person on the job and off. Without work to take up the majority of my time, I could not fathom how I would stay engaged and active for the next 20 years. A few fellow bloggers sought to enlighten me and described how their retired lives kept them at least as busy as when they worked – only now they were having fun. But I was convinced it was not going to be easy.

On my “trial retirement” for the past two years, I have developed a routine that starts at 7 a.m. each morning and keeps me engaged until late afternoon. I have revisited hobbies that I never had time for and discovered some new passions to pursue. And I keep looking for new things to do. Having a basic routine that I am free to modify combined with a renewed ability to explore new activities has me optimistic about my retirement and much less concerned about becoming bored.

My wife has not yet ventured into retired living and might find it initially challenging. She is an energetic, organized and involved person who prefers to be busy rather than stagnant. Work has always been an important part of her life, and taking that out of the equation makes her a tad bit nervous. The good news is her husband has been in a similar situation and has almost made the transition. We should be able to figure it out together.

I realize I don’t have to be perpetually busy. After over 30 years in the corporate grind I initially felt a little guilty if I was not doing something every minute. Working in stressful environments left me conditioned to be doing something worthwhile all the time. Transitioning into a retirement lifestyle where I am no longer on the clock took some getting used to. But I eventually came to accept and appreciate down times when I do nothing. I have come to realize it is truly wonderful to relax in the backyard, partake in an afternoon nap or just plain daydream. I don’t have to be doing something all the time, and I am getting used to the idea.

I accept that I cannot be prepared for everything. I did not foresee the bubble of 2000 or the recession of 2008, and I probably won’t see the next bear market coming either. Although we have saved what we can, there is no guarantee it will be enough. There is a lot of uncertainty in the future, and no one can be prepared for every possible contingency. By accepting that everything is not within my control I feel I am better equipped to prepare as best I can and cope with whatever comes my way.

Retirement is a transition. Getting used to being retired and making the most of it will be a gradual process. I may not get it right on my first try, but I have time to make it better, improve and learn. Although I am getting older, I am optimistic about retirement and ready to give it a try.

From my blog on US News & World