After spending half your life working and saving, you are finally ready to take your focus away from making money and center your life around the things that matter most to you. This can seem like a dream come true for a lot of people, but immense freedom can also lead to feelings of boredom and anxiety. Here are 6 ways you can prepare to achieve a happier retirement so your hard work pays off.
1. Find Purpose
The first secret to finding happiness in retirement doesn’t just apply to retirement. Studies show individuals who live a purpose-driven life are happier and healthier, on average, than those who don’t. (1) Not only that, but they also live longer! (2) A purposeful life is commonly associated with fulfillment and motivation and can be found in many ways. Volunteering for a local nonprofit or your church, spending time with your grandchildren, or pursuing a newfound hobby are great ways to find purpose in your day-to-day life.
2. Practice Gratitude and Contentment
It’s no secret that money can buy comfort and less stress, but it is less likely to buy happiness. Your retirement lifestyle may not always mirror your pre-retirement lifestyle when your income level was at its peak. Heavy expectations of what your life should look like—resulting from comparing yourself with others or the preconceptions of retirement imposed by the media—can be a huge mental drain and often result in feelings of failure and sadness over time. Instead, focus on what you do have (and what you have control over), and live in the moment as much as possible. Also, reflect on the activities that bring you the most joy and orient your time during retirement to be surrounded by people that also enjoy the same things, since you will likely need to replace the social interaction that previously came from work.
Savoring the meaningful people and experiences in our life reminds us that many of our real needs can be fulfilled in ways that don’t involve spending money, despite what our consumer-driven society might lead us to believe. Some of these needs include a connection with nature and with other beings (both human and non-human), the need for play and creative expression, and the need to know others and to be known ourselves. This mindset can nurture a fundamental orientation toward gratitude for the ways in which the earth and the people around us can meet our needs in non-monetary ways.
3. Stay Healthy
Declining health and how to pay for the associated medical bills is the biggest concern for many retirees. In fact, about 70% of Americans cite healthcare costs as the most pressing issue when planning for retirement. (3) Incorporating long-term care planning into your overall financial plan can help ease this concern as you enter retirement. Once in retirement, you can alleviate your chances of becoming seriously ill by prioritizing your mental and physical health. Remember that your brain is also a muscle and needs to be regularly stimulated to avoid atrophy. Previously your work helped to keep your mind regularly engaged and active, but if you don’t provide challenges (such as a new hobby, learning a new skill, playing games, or other mental activities), you may begin to see some signs of cognitive decline.
4. Phased Retirement
Another way to increase your happiness is to work part-time or use a phased approach to retirement. Adjusting to retirement is a huge transition! Going from working 40-plus hours a week for 30-plus years to suddenly having all the time in the world is a shock to the system, to say the least. It takes time to adjust, so don’t feel pressure to rush into retirement all at once. Case in point: it’s becoming increasingly popular for people to approach retirement in phases by slowly adjusting to reduced hours, part-time work, then eventually full retirement.
5. Prioritize Friendships
A Penn State study found that adults between ages 70-90 who reported more frequent and pleasant social interactions also displayed better cognitive performance on that day and the two subsequent days. (4) Prioritize connecting with your friends, family, and loved ones throughout retirement. Knowing that you have a strong support system can make a significant difference in your overall health and happiness, especially if you experience the loss of a spouse, fall on hard times, or suffer from declining health.
6. Plan Ahead
One of the best ways to improve your happiness in retirement is to have a plan for what you want it to look like. Articulating your vision for the future is a great way to motivate yourself to make it happen and enjoy a sense of fulfillment once your plan comes to fruition. To bring some much-needed comfort during your golden years, it’s wise to prepare for potential retirement pitfalls like unexpected health issues or running out of money. These concerns can and should be incorporated into a retirement plan and thoroughly assessed by a qualified wealth manager.
Get Started Today
You’ve worked and planned the majority of your life—a happy and healthy retirement should be your reward. Whether you’re retiring in 10 or 20 years, we at Anderson Financial Strategies are here to help you navigate the path to a fulfilling retirement by helping you build a solid financial plan that’s personalized and monitored for ongoing efficiency. If you would like to explore our services for your family or business, please call us at 855-237-4545 to schedule an executive briefing to discuss your goals.
Shon Anderson is president and chief wealth strategist at Anderson Financial Strategies, LLC with over 15 years of experience. As a fiduciary, Shon’s mission is to provide his clients with quality financial expertise along with rapidly responsive service through an honest relationship. He specializes in providing family office-style services to help his clients organize and focus their financial life. Shon graduated from Wright State University with a bachelor’s degree in financial services and an MBA in finance. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner and holds the Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®) certification. His insights have been quoted in leading financial news publications such as CNBC, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, Consumer Reports, Forbes, Bankrate.com, Investment News, and Kiplinger. Shon serves as an adjunct professor teaching personal finance courses at Wright State University, leads CFP® exam review courses for Keir Educational Resources, and is president of the CFA Society Dayton. Shon and his wife, Jessica, reside in Sugarcreek Township, Ohio, and are blessed with triplet daughters, Elizabeth, Bridgette, and Alexandra, along with their son, Jacob, and dog, Jack. Over the years, Shon has been involved in several volunteer organizations including the Wright State chapter of Delta Tau Delta as an alumni advisor and was a Big Brother in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program. To learn more about Shon, connect with him on LinkedIn.