We have all heard that Americans are not saving enough for retirement and that some adults choose (or are forced) to return to work following their retirement. While the financial piece of this stage is certainly of great consequence, it is important to remember that it is not everything. Ideally ahead of time, it is wise to write down – on paper or computer, as long as it is easily accessible – what you want this phase of your life to look like. Then, you must craft a plan to turn this vision into reality.
While it is vital to maximize your retirement income, it is also worthwhile to focus on the things that money cannot buy.
Health, for instance, is one of the top influencers of satisfaction during retirement. Happier people tend to be healthier people and vice versa – a wealth of evidence indicates that positive emotions can lead to a longer, healthier life. In addition, stress reduction, being engaged in something and volunteering can also contribute to your overall sense of well-being.
If you are feeling less than your best, there is no time like the present, as the adage goes. In addition to meeting with your doctor to address any specific needs, you can start moving or walking more, focus on your breathing or add more stretching to your routine to reduce stress and tension. Perhaps most importantly, take time every day to note at least three things for which you are grateful.
Connection is also critical. Married retirees who have a positive relationship with their spouse are happier than single retirees, according to studies. Since you will have more free time, make sure you have people you want to share those experiences with – whether it is a spouse, former colleague, neighbor or friend. Staying connected can be as simple as meeting friends for coffee, planning a trip with several other couples or a regular game of pickleball.
While you do not need to plan every single minute of your day, it is important to think about how you want to spend your time and to get out of the house. Your activity list might involve time with the grandkids, a regular volunteer commitment, a book club or learning a new skill. Granted, retirement can be a much-needed opportunity to slow down and relax, but it should still be a time of engagement.
Remember, you can supplement your savings with a part-time job or by staying in your profession for another few years. However, your health and overall happiness are often more complicated. Ultimately, a happy retirement or happy life is chiefly up to you. Determine what and who will bring you joy in this stage and then add those elements to your overall retirement plan.
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