Article – 5 tips to achieving happiness in retirement
Retirement is a happy time, right? You’ve worked hard to get here after all, so it should be a given.
Retirement is a time for freedom, a time for downsizing and sorting out what’s really important, a time for relaxing and travelling, and all those other amazing things you always dreamt about doing once you had the time. This all sounds great, but it’s not a guarantee of happiness.
Here is a great article by Richard Eisenberg published by Forbes about five tips to achieving happiness in retirement. What other tips do you have to share?
1. Figure out in advance what you want out of retirement.
By that, I mean things like: how you’ll spend your days, where you’ll spend them and what would make you fulfilled. Start thinking seriously about retirement when you’re around 50 or 55.
If you have a husband, wife or partner, talk frankly together about what you both want out of retirement.
Neal Frankle, a noted financial planner, recently wrote on Next Avenue that he finds it helpful for couples to discuss their retirement dreams and write them down. Then, he says, they should mark each item as a “must have,” a “want” or a “wish” and be ready to compromise. One thing you’ll want to figure out is how much time the two of you will want to spend together, since this may be the first time you’re both available all the time. Hinden told Next Avenue that he and his wife came up with a system that worked for them: Early in the week, they each would spend time alone or with their own friends. Then, toward the end of the week, they’d do things together, like go to museums, theaters or restaurants.
2. Come up with a retirement income plan.
By that I mean: sit down and figure out how much your savings and other accounts will translate to in monthly income; how much you’ll get from Social Security and any pension; how much you can afford to withdraw each year and which accounts you’ll tap first for withdrawals to keep taxes down.
3. Choose when to retire and then follow through (if you can).
A survey of 1,477 retirees found out that workers who were able to retire by choice were happier than ones whose retirement was thrust on them: 69% of the retirees who retired by choice were satisfied with their lifestyle but only 36% pushed into retirement said they were. I realize many people aren’t lucky enough to be able to decide when they’ll retire because they lose their job or their health forces them to stop working. But if you can pick your date, you should.
4. Stay engaged and healthy (if you can).
The career coach Bill Ellermeyer says the happiest retirees he knows are either engaged in some kind of meaningful activity or are actively employed. Some have become entrepreneurs; some have started encore careers, doing either paid work or volunteering for the greater good, some are just volunteering here and there.
He also says they “eat well, sleep soundly, play often, exercise at least three times a week and maintain strong social connections.” In fact, a survey by Age Wave and Merrill Lynch of 3,300 pre-retirees and retirees said “good health” as the No. 1 key to happiness in retirement.
5. Learn new things or pursue your passions.
Those passions could be ones you had when you were much younger but somehow stopped doing over the years, like playing an instrument or painting. Retirement is a great time to discover new passions, too, by taking classes or finding one-on-one instruction.
Check out local colleges for adult education and continuing education classes, too. These courses could teach you new skills or just provide knowledge for the pure joy of it.