Conquer Your Retirement Challenges and Enjoy the Great Life You Deserve

Written by Felix Steinmeyer

Though retirement ought to be a time when you are finally able to let out a deep breathe and relax, there is no getting around the worry that comes with entering that stage of life. After all, any major life event can be awfully stressful, and there is no denying that leaving your career is a major life event. The greatest retirement worries are losing one’s sense of purpose, not having enough money, being lonely, and being in poor health. But, you do not need to fret because you can indeed conquer your retirement challenges and enjoy the life for which you have worked your entire life.

What Now? Create, Follow Your Retirement Plan

Although most retirement plans focus on finances, the truth of the matter is that to truly enjoy your retirement, your plan needs to cover more than your budget. Actually, the retirement plan I suggest that you create will be a life plan, not a spending/income plan. Your retirement plan, will answer that question that nearly everyone has when they retire: “So, what now?”

When creating your retirement plan, think long term. The further out you can make it, the more excited you will be about the future. Schedule your plans around the full twelve months of the year. If Spring is your favorite season, plan a trip to the Southern Hemisphere in October so you can enjoy the greenery and blooms when it is winter back home. Also, list the birthdays of your loved ones and plan visits over the next 24 months so you keep on having a great event to look forward to.

Also sit down and determine what is important to you. Is being a grandmother, the role you love the most? Or, perhaps, mentoring young business people is something you have always wanted to do. Regardless of what gives your life meaning, make sure you include it in your life plan.

Break that Plan, be Spontaneous

Now, with all of that having been said about the life-meaning your plan can give your retirement, it has got to be said, that there will be times when you ought to break your plan. There will be times in your retirement that call for spontaneity.

Don’t follow comedian Steven Wright’s advice and procrastinate being spontaneous. A bit of spontaneity will work your creativity muscles. It will keep you fresh and flexible. It will keep you from turning into that grumpy old man or woman. It will bring you joy.

Finding Work, Not a Job

Even if you do not need a job, you might need work. But in retirement, the work you do can be what you enjoy. This could be volunteering or even doing something, such as gardening or pet sitting, for some spending. The key here is to find work you enjoy. Remember, you’re retired, no more jobs.

 Stop Worrying about Money

A major challenge you will probably need to overcome in retirement is worrying about money. In fact, some studies have found that soon-to-retire people are more concerned about not having enough money than they are about dying. Now, that is quite a worry, eh?

To conquer this financial worry, you must first understand that it is perfectly normal. Odds are, most of the people around you feel the exact same way. Once you accept this, you can move on to the next step of figuring out if you have a legitimate reason to worry about finances in retirement. Thankfully, there are some great online tools, such as the AARP retirement calculator, that can give you a quick snapshot of your current situation while offering suggestions as to the steps you can take to help you meet your retirement lifestyle goals.

Shoring up Your Finances Late in the Game  

You still do not need to worry if it turns out that you do indeed need to improve your financial situation. You can overcome this retirement challenge as well. There are many ways you can make money while retired from selling items you have acquired over the decades to getting a reverse mortgage, life insurance settlements, shopping around for better interest rates on investments and credit cards, and so many more.

Though they are not income, discounts are a fantastic way for seniors to save money, lots of money. Did you know that Americans who are at least 62 years old can buy a lifetime pass to all of America’s national parks for just $80. That is a stunning discount when you consider that everyone else has to pay that same amount for just a one-year pass. You can find other great prices at private and public attractions, hotels and resorts, restaurants, museums, theaters, and nearly everywhere else that caters to the public.

Collect Experiences, Not Stuff

What makes you happy? According to research, your experiences give you much more happiness than do your things. As you are creating and following your retirement life plan, covered above, make sure you pack it with experiences instead of purchases. Remember, there may come a time that it will be difficult for you to travel and experience good times.

Some of the greatest experiences you can have in retirement will also keep you active. Geocaching, golfing, bird watching, pickleball, hiking, and gardening are all great ways to collect experiences that will also keep you active and give you the opportunity to make new friends. All of this will likewise combine to conquer your fears of being lonely or losing your health prematurely.

Retirement Need Not Be a Time of Worry

You can conquer the retirement challenges that most of us will face. You just have to plan and take them on honestly.

How a Part Time Job Can Improve Retirement

Do you ever find yourself counting the days until you can retire? I remember times I hated what I was doing but had no choice but to persevere, take it on the chin, grin and bear it, you know the drill. The promise of a day when I would be free from my toils shined brightly in my mind. Oh to do what I wanted when I wanted, answering to no one, no longer just existing and calling it a life but instead really living. I looked forward to retiring.

And once I got there although a bit ahead of schedule it was good. I never missed work. I kept myself busy with hobbies – old and new. I exercised, gardened, read, played piano, blogged, and when the mood hit me napped.

Then one day all those activities and interests that had filled my days began to feel a bit less interesting. The nice routine that kept me occupied until just about happy hour each day began to feel a little old, boring even.

It’s not that my retirement was a failure, but more it needed a kick in the pants, a little fine tuning to be all it could be.

My salvation came when the owner of a nearby (like one mile away from home) winery called and asked if I would like to join them pouring their lovely Pinots and Chardonnays. Prior to “the call” my wife and I had been members of their wine club for about two years. We explored all of the local tasting rooms (how about 24 in a half-mile radius) and settled on Mercy as our favorite. Not only were the wines amazing but the owners and fellow wine club members were great – fun to spend time with and never a dull moment. These days I walk to “work” three days a week where for five hours I share wonderful wines with wonderful visitors from all over the world.

When I left the working world I had no plans of ever returning to work – not one, ever. Live free, stay free was the way I saw Dave experiencing his golden years.

But I realized I was not limited to doing the same thing I had during my career. There were many avenues to explore, many alternatives to what I had done. I can honestly say I never saw myself pouring wine at a tasting room. But now that I am here I love it.

My wife recently tested the retirement waters for the first time. She lasted about six months. Sure she enjoyed no commute and no job stress. But she quickly felt she was wasting her time. She likes to get things done, to feel productive. Her solution was to sign on with a temp agency. They find part time opportunities across a variety of local companies. My wife enjoys moving from place to place where she meets new people and gets to explore different roles. When one gig is done she is available for the next. Her only challenge is she is so good at what she does the companies want to hire her full time. Even if tempting, I remind her retirement is her top priority. We are in this together!

Some are blessed to find themselves immersed in a career they love. Imagine looking forward to each day on the job rather than dreading the harsh alarm clock ringing in another trip to the grind. For those who love what they do there are seldom thoughts of retirement. My folks worked with the same estate planner for the past 40 years. He genuinely loves what he does describing his role as helping others prepare for a more secure future. Staying current with the changes in laws and regulations keeps his mind sharp. Although he has reached “the right age” he has no plans to retire anytime soon. Why search for something to replace what you already love?

If you consider adding a part time job to your retirement here are a few takeaways from my personal experiences:

Be picky – this time you get to choose where you work. Make sure you are doing what you like.

If at first you don’t succeed… should your part time gig fall short of expectations you can always exit and try something else.

 Think outside the box – your retirement career does not have to be related to your earlier career. Take a look at everything out there. This time you get to follow your heart rather than your wallet.

Stay engaged – when you leave your job behind, you also leave the people you interacted with. I believe staying socially engaged is critical to a happy retirement. Good moments are even better when shared. And bad moments can feel less daunting with the support of others.

Set your own schedule – you’re not working full time so arrange things according to your wants and needs. I find Thursday/Saturday/Sunday works quite well.

Have fun – why else work if you don’t have to?

Part time work has been a wonderful addition to our retirement. We engage with people, learn new things, get out of the house and even make a few bucks. But our real job is being retired. That is the career we are committed to and happily pursue each day.

5 Ways to Improve Your Morning Routine

Written by Joe Fleming

Struggling to get ready in the morning? While getting older affords the freedoms of retirement, it also comes with its aches and pains that can make any morning routine a bit sluggish. If you’re looking for sure-fire ways to spice up your morning rituals and get going faster, don’t miss this essential guide:

Let the sunshine in

While listening to the song Aquarius may help you get a jump on the morning, this tip is a bit more literal. Natural sunlight exposure has been shown to serve as an environmental prod that triggers the body’s biological clock to get going. If you think about it, long before electricity existed, people’s wake and sleep cycles operated in accordance with the rising and setting of the sun. This evolutionary cue still plays a role today.

Open your blinds or curtains as soon as you wake up in the morning and let the sunshine in. Even step outside on your porch to breathe in fresh air and awaken your senses to the sights, smells, and sounds around you.

Simplify getting dressed

Common conditions like arthritis and even diabetes can make getting dressed in the morning a bit of a hassle – from fumbling with buttons to having to bend over to put on pants and shoes. Simplify this part of your morning routine with easy, inexpensive dressing aids. For example, a long-handled shoe horn can avoid causing back pain commonly associated with having to stoop and bend over to put on shoes.

You can also find dressing aids that help you pull up zippers, button shirts, put on pants, and more. Look at your local drugstore, supercenter, or big box store for the best options.

Drink water first

While tearing into the coffee may be your bulletproof way of yanking your eyes open in the morning, you might want to think first about consuming a more hydrating beverage, water. Drinking more water, in general, has not only been shown to kickstart your metabolism, but 1 to 2 glasses in the morning also helps to rehydrate the body after a night spent sleeping.

Healthy hydration in the morning can also aid digestion and stave off cravings for big breakfasts loaded with refined sugars and flours, notoriously unhealthy foods.

Listen to music

You may have heard about the powers music possesses in activating cognitive functions like memory, motor processing, and emotion. It could also be the key to boosting your own mood in the morning! Research has shown that music improves cheerfulness and alertness and induces feelings of relaxation.

If you are a morning grump, try putting together a playlist of songs you love – could be happy pop, old standards, or classical gems, it’s up to you! Don’t have a stereo or CD player? Use free music streaming services like Spotify or Pandora on your computer or smartphone to create playlists and listen to music you love.

Avoid bad late-night habits

Want to wake feeling more refreshed and energized in the morning? Turns out what you do and don’t do the night before can have a significant impact. Bad late-night habits that affect your quality and amount of sleep include:

  • Blue light exposure from devices like your smartphone or iPad
  • Drinking caffeine late in the day
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Sleeping on an unsupportive mattress and/or pillow

Your mornings are sure to change for the better as your sleep quality improves as well. Facilitate the best sleeping environment by avoiding the above bad habits as well as making sure your sleeping area is dark, cool, and relatively quiet. Aids like white noise machines help some people fall asleep or at least mask the outside sounds of urban environments. Take these simple steps and you’ll wake more well-rested and ready to start the day the following morning.

Plan Ahead

It goes without saying that a little forethought can go a long way. If you want to ramp up the steam in your morning engine, try planning ahead the night before. This can include everything from picking out the clothes you’re going to wear the next day, to getting your morning music playlist ready, and even sorting your morning medicines into a handy pill organizer.

Committing to a relatively fixed order of doing things can also benefit your health as you get older. A solid routine provides both structure to your day as well as a reliable sense of “what comes next.” If cognitive decline affects your memory or orientation, it will be helpful to have familiar routines and habits to fall back on.