How to Have a Happy Retirement

Over the years, I have worked with many clients in their transition to retirement.  It can be a joyous, amazing occasion as they leave one part of their lives behind to embark on another.  Or, frankly, it can be a difficult change, a change forced on them through circumstance.  You may have worked up a budget, or looked at your spending habits or insurance costs, or even looked at how many dollars you need to retire and maintain your standard of living.  But, have you really thought about how you are going to spend the time that you used to spend working?  Although the shift to retirement may be something you and your loved ones have dreamed about for many years, it is one of the most important life events, and yet is one of the least planned for, at least from a non-monetary standpoint.

This may be because of what Mitch Anthony refers to in his book “The Retirementality” as “Retiremyths”.  His list of “Retiremyths” includes:

  • Age 65 is old
  • Being retired means you are not working
  • You have to be 62 to do what you really want to do
  • Retirement is an economic event exclusively
  • A life of ease is the ultimate retirement goal
  • You are going to spend most of your retirement income on doctors and pills
  • I can do this myself

There are many retirees who are busier in their ‘retirement’ than they have ever been. They live lives of enormous gratification and joy; and often, it is important that they know how they are going to spend their retirement days beyond simply planning for enjoyment. This does not necessarily equate to finding a daily hobby, but instead it is about seeking to find what will motivate you to get up in the morning.

Recently, The Wall Street Journal had an entire section devoted to “How to Say ‘NO’ to Retirement.  I am by no means suggesting that the right answer is that you don’t retire, but I am suggesting that you spend some time thinking through what retirement looks like.  Talk it over with your spouse, family, friends and your trusted advisor about your vision of retirement.  Get their feedback, thoughts and ideas. Think about what will make you happy.

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”  Sophia Loren

You may also want to consider the following:

Location – are you living where you want and need to live to be fulfilled?  This is not just physically where your home is, but about whether you are in the right place for the next phase of your life.  Maybe it’s about adjusting to a new schedule, new experiences and ability to stay connected.  Moving far away from family and friends to create a new retirement life is not always roses and champagne.

Work – Work has probably played a big part of who you are, it is not just about collecting a check.  Consider how stopping work will impact you and the ones you love.  What makes you tick?  Most people do not love every aspect of their job, but certain areas of the work they are passionate about.  Is there a way to change the work environment to spend more time on the fun stuff?  Ignore those expectations of age to retire if it doesn’t work for you.  Challenge yourself – are there other opportunities?

Relationships – Spending time with those important in your life is often paramount.  Don’t forget that your retirement may have a big influence on your family life. Maybe not everyone is used to you being around every day, all day.  Ask how your retirement changes their day to day routine.  Are you on the same page in terms of how time will be spent with your partner? Articulate your vision and listen to your loved ones – these visions may differ significantly and plans may need to adjust.  What relationships are important to you? How do you want your retirement to impact those relationships.

Purpose – What can you do to stay active and engaged?  Are there work or volunteer opportunities to maximize your abilities?  Where can you best use your talents?  How do you balance work, learning and leisure?

Retirement should be a joyful time and planning for it makes it that much better!

Our greatest happiness does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed us, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits. Thomas Jefferson


Additional articles