About three years ago, at age 62, I was finishing up my media sales management career and realized it was time to move on. My pension was set so I was lucky that I had flexibility. I knew I no longer wanted a full-time job.
Retire? But to what? I don't play golf, crochet, play bridge or enjoy any of those interests my friends do. I adore my grandson and family, but they are 1,200 miles away so a weekend four or five times a year is the best I can do.
Travel, the outdoors, healthy endeavors and children are my passions. In 2013, I started to work on a plan for the next phase of life. The goal was for it to be meaningful and rewarding.
I surfed the internet looking for travel ideas, cost-effective options and different ways that volunteering would be mutually beneficial with my interests, skills and passions. My good friend bought me a book on volunteer travel. In my free time I read, analyzed and sifted through websites and books, and talked with colleagues and friends.
After you retire, your daily life will change in more ways that you probably imagine. There are many changes you won’t realize until you experience them, but forming a clearer picture of your values and how you want to live your life after you retire will help you make better plans and adapt more easily to the changes retirement brings. It will also give you a clearer picture of what you can look forward to.
The questions that follow will help you sort these things out. If you’re married or partnered, these are good conversations to have together. You shouldn’t assume that your spouse wants the same things you do.
If you ask many retirees what their life is like, they will probably tell you that they are as busy as ever. Every day is full of errands, shopping, household chores, yard work, TV and movies, club meetings, and all sorts of other things. Their calendars are filled with events, appointments, and get-togethers.
After you retire and you no longer have to go into work every day, it seems like everything else expands, multiplies, and rushes in to consume the time you used to work. You may wonder how you ever had time to work and still get everything else done.
Of course, staying busy certainly beats being bored and having nothing to do.
But after a year or two has passed and you settle into your new normal routine, a sense of discontentment may emerge. It’s subtle at first, lurking just beneath the surface. You will begin to wonder if this is all there is, and if this is what you spent decades of your life working for. You’re busy, and most of it is fun or at least pleasant, but something seems to be missing.
At first, this may seem like a rhetorical question. After all, you won’t have to work anymore! You will no longer have to deal with pressure, deadlines, performance reviews, demanding customers, or annoying co-workers. You can shut off the alarm clock and get up when you want. And best of all, no more boss! (Well, except maybe your spouse.) Why wouldn’t you be happy after you retire?
As it turns out, enjoying a happy retirement does not automatically happen when you kiss the old job goodbye. Not surprisingly, it takes more than simply saving enough money.
While what makes you happy is as individual as you are, these five tips will enable you to make good lifestyle choices and approach retirement with the right frame of mind to truly be happy after you retire.
Welcome to this week's "Lifestyles of the Happily Retired" podcast! In this series, I chat with people who are reinventing themselves and living happy, fulfilling, and interesting lives during retirement.
This week's guest is Elizabeth Boatman
After retiring from her career as a banker, Elizabeth rediscovered an old hobby - photography. Now, she takes day trips from her home in suburban Los Angeles to discover interesting places and beautiful sights that most people are completely unaware of. She has launched a blog, NeighborhoodTravels.com, to share her photography and document her discoveries.
Sadly, Elizabeth's husband passed away about a year before she retired, so her retirement is different from the one she had envisioned for many years. Elizabeth shares her story about reinventing herself and adjusting to her new life, and offers some excellent advice for everyone who finds herself/himself newly single in retirement.
Are you uncertain about what retirement holds for you?
Are you worried that your days will be dull, boring, and empty?
Some people continue to work because they truly enjoy their jobs. Some people continue to work because they haven’t saved enough money to retire. But you would be surprised at how many people continue to work simply because they have no idea what they would do if they didn’t.
Does this describe you – or people you know?
Last month, near the end of the 2015 holiday season, my husband and I attended a cocktail party. Most of the other attendees were in our general age range – 50s and 60s. Most of them were people I was meeting for the first time.
One of the first questions that always comes up when you meet new people is, “What do you do?”
That question can be awkward for retired people, especially for those who are recently retired and still adjusting to not having their career label or job title available as a quick and easy answer to that question. Simply saying, “I’m retired” doesn’t provide a very good path forward for the conversation, and may lead the other person to grasp for something else, like the weather or how a local sports team is doing. (Yawn.)
I have an answer I usually give that offers my new acquaintance several options for continuing the conversation.
You’ve probably heard this question many times during job interviews throughout your career – especially from interviewers who weren’t very skillful at conducting job interviews.
One of the biggest problems with this question is that you have no way of knowing what opportunities may be available in five or ten years. At the rate technology is advancing, opportunities will exist in ten years that you have no way of envisioning today.
Still, it was better to have a career plan and remain adaptable and open to new possibilities than to have no plan at all and drift aimlessly through your work years.
You had a career plan. Now, you need a retirement plan!
The question of where you see yourself in five or ten years becomes more relevant when you’re considering how you’re going to live your life after you retire.
Think about what your retirement will look like, on a day-to-day basis. Do you think you will be happy?
Are you concerned that once you leave work, you will feel that you’re not contributing anything of value?
Are you worried that retirement will be boring and depressing?
There are four components to a happy retirement: physical activity, mental stimulation, socialization, and fulfillment. The first three are pretty easy to understand, and it’s pretty easy to find activities that satisfy those needs. But the fourth one, fulfillment, is a little less tangible and may seem more elusive.
Fulfillment comes from many sources, internal and external. It means something different for every one of us. It may be hard to define, but we know when we feel it.
How many things are you putting off until you retire?
Sure, your life is busy. There never seems to be enough time to do the things you really want to do. It’s easy to think, “When I’m retired, I’ll have all the time I want for <insert activity here>.”
To an extent, you’re right. You will have a lot more time to do the things you want after you retire. And it’s good to use these things as incentives to help you look forward to retirement and to better plan for it.
But why postpone happiness until sometime in the future? There’s no lifetime quota on happiness and enjoyment – you can have as much as you want. If you put things off for too long, you may never get to do them, or you may no longer have as much physical or mental capacity to do them.
I’m going to suggest seven things that people often postpone, thinking that they will be able to devote time and attention to them once they retire. And I’m going to present a case for why it’s in your best interests to start doing them now, rather than wait.
After you retire, what will you do with all of your new-found time?
Are you concerned that you’ll be bored?
I’m always bewildered when I hear people say that they think retirement will be boring. I’ve heard many people say they don’t want to retire and they would rather keep working, because they have no idea what they would do with all that leisure time.
This is totally foreign to me. I never seem to find enough time to do everything I want to do.
In my Retirement Visualization Guide, I ask you to list things you really enjoy doing, things you have enjoyed doing in the past, and new things you want to try. If you have undertaken this exercise, chances are that there are more things you just haven’t thought of - yet.
The list below will stimulate you to come up with some more possibilities for activities you might pursue after you retire. It is by no means a complete list, but it should provide some good starting points for brainstorming and possibility thinking.