Years ago, many workers’ retirement dreams simply consisted of hopes for a few good years of relaxation after working for much of their lives. Today, however, most Americans retire expecting to live an active and fulfilling lifestyle for decades to come. After working and saving for most of their lives, they look forward to the freedom to pursue interests and activities that had to take a backseat to daily life demands. Unfortunately, however, some retirees find that retirement is not as fulfilling as they had hoped. For some, the reality of retirement brings about feelings of boredom, anxiety, or depression. The fact is, a happy retirement doesn’t just happen on its own. While a fulfilling and happy life after retirement is an absolute possibility, it takes careful planning and thoughtful decision-making to make it a reality.
1- Make a plan
Instead of just letting retirement happen, make retirement your next career. Carefully consider what it is you want to do with the rest of your life. Decide where and how you want to live and how you are going to finance the lifestyle you are hoping to achieve. Open your mind to new possibilities as you take a realistic look at where you are now and where you want to be in the future. Actively plan for the future and take steps to see that you follow through with your goals and aspirations.
2- Protect your health
When you are physically healthy you naturally feel happier and more energetic about your life. Protect this energy by taking time to protect your health every day. Make sure that you eat a healthy diet, visit your doctor regularly, get enough sleep, and make time for daily exercise. Don’t let retirement become an excuse to neglect your health and your vitality.
3- Stay involved with family and friends
One of the biggest struggles of retirement can be the feeling of isolation that can occur. People need frequent social interaction to maintain their emotional health. Frequently visit family and friends that live close by and visit, talk on the phone, or write letters or emails to those who live far away. Actively seek out new friends with common interests. If planned well, retirement can actually be a very socially active time in your life as you make new friends and reach out to family and friends that you may have let slip away when you were focused on your career.
4- Be active
Staying active involves much more than daily exercise. To be active is to be fully engaged in exciting, interesting projects and plans that keep you involved in the world around you. Look for activities to enjoy that can engage both your mind and your body. Many retirees find that retirement is a great opportunity to take dance lessons, gardening classes, or become involved in other active interests.
5- Give yourself permission to relax
As you involve yourself in many active pursuits, don’t forget to just let yourself relax now and again. After spending so many years juggling the demands of family, life, and career, retirement should be a welcome respite. Relaxation can take many different forms, however, and can still be productive and fulfilling. Consider taking a long-awaited vacation or simply find a quiet hobby at home that can refresh your mind, body, and spirit.
6- Spend time outdoors
Many people find that nothing is quite as rejuvenating as spending a little time in the sunshine and fresh air. Take a daily walk or plant a garden to allow for daily outdoor time. Just a few minutes a day can make a big difference in fighting feelings of sadness or isolation.
7- Discover what brings you joy
Retirement can be the start to a whole new world of opportunities. Allow yourself to explore these opportunities and find what brings joy into your life. You may have spent the majority of your life taking care of others. Now is the time to take care of yourself and enrich your own life experiences. Take advantage of your health and free time by trying something new every day and filling your life with hobbies and activities that you find interesting and fulfilling.
8- Help others
One of the best ways to find happiness in any stage of life is to help others. With more time on your hands, retirement provides a great opportunity to do just that. Volunteer at local schools or community or senior centers. Get involved in your church or local charitable organizations. Doing so can help you feel both the joy of helping others and a sense of being needed and belonging.
Your retirement can signal the start of some of the happiest years of your life. Don’t expect happiness to just occur on its own, however. Take an active role in planning and creating a fulfilling and meaningful retirement and you are much more likely to experience a joyful retirement lifestyle now and for many years to come.
- License: Creative Commons image source
Lauren Hill is a writer and blogger of all trades. Labeling herself as a lifelong learner, she spends much of her time reading and researching new topics.