15 Tips on How to Retire Happy

FT Contributor  | 

The average age of full retirement has slowly crept up over the years, with the official number currently standing at 67 years old. Whether you retire at 67 or at 50, though, the primary goal remains the same: to have a long and happy retirement.

Here are 15 tips that can be applied to retirees of all ages in order to ensure that they maintain the highest-quality retired lifestyle possible over the decades that lie ahead.

1. Organize Your Finances

From the moment you start to calculate how much you need to save for retirement, it’s important to keep your finances healthy and organized. That means keeping a close eye on your 401(k) account or any other retirement accounts that you might have.

You should also be focused on setting a budget, balancing checking accounts, paying down debts, separating wants and needs, and saving for the future. These are all essential elements for long-term retirement happiness.

2. Enjoy the Wind-Down Process

Modern adult life is mostly spent on the go, as you’re constantly racing between work and personal responsibilities. Once you’re retired, though, things quickly begin to slow down.

As this process begins, it’s important to remember that you have the rest of your life to enjoy this wind-down process. Take some time to welcome and even embrace the sluggish change by:

  • Spending time meditating to start each day.
  • Practicing being in the moment.
  • Cultivating an attitude of gratitude and thankfulness.

If you focus on slowing down and enjoying where you are, you’ll be able to maintain a positive attitude throughout the retirement transition and beyond.

3. Expect the Unexpected

As your life shifts into a new routine, it’s important to remember to expect the unexpected. For instance, while you may initially enjoy the freedom from your 9 to 5 work routine, eventually you may find yourself facing new battles with loneliness or boredom. As you age, you also may find yourself surprised by unforeseen scenarios such as illness or a financial setback.

If you strive to have a calm, unassuming attitude, you’ll be able to maintain your tranquility throughout each unexpected event.

4. Focus on Your Nutrition

Nutrition is an essential part of a happy lifestyle. As you adjust to retirement, spend time researching various diets and health food regimens that can help keep you in tip-top shape.

Along with good food choices, commit to drinking an appropriate amount of water every day and strive to weed out any bad eating habits, such as scarfing down your food, that you may have developed over years of tight schedules and deadlines.

5. Develop a Routine

Routines can be the rock on which you build your retirement lifestyle. Throughout most of your past life routines were largely created by your circumstances — needy children, work schedules, aging parents, and so on.

Now that you have control over your time, take advantage of the flexibility to craft a new routine that can maximize your happiness and comfort. If you’re a night owl, plan to sleep in. If you need time to wake up alone, go for a long walk each morning. It sounds cliché, but the world is your oyster. Take advantage of this fact to provide a little structure for your day-to-day retirement life.

6. Maintain an Active Mind

Maintaining an active mind is a key to cognitive health. Look for meaningful activities, such as learning a new language, volunteering, or taking up a new hobby to keep your brain working. As you mentally exercise your cognition, it will help keep your mind sharp, aware, and happy.

7. Stay Active

Staying active is another important element to long-term physical health and, by extension, general happiness and a higher quality of life. Look for activities to keep your body engaged, such as:

  • Walking.
  • Hiking.
  • Jogging.
  • Biking.
  • Swimming.

There are plenty of ways to stay active in retirement, and putting in the effort to do so can be a critical step in maintaining a happy lifestyle.

8. Write Down Your Goals

Ah, the good old bucket list. You may have avoided the overused bucket list strategy thus far, but it’s actually a really good idea.

Writing down any and every goal you might have in retirement can help provide a sense of purpose and drive to your activities. It can also help you prioritize what you should focus on right now, such as more exotic traveling, which might be difficult to engage in later on in life.

9. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

If you genuinely want to be happy in retirement, it’s important to watch out for out-of-place pride. If you let your desire to appear independent and strong override a real need for help — whether it’s physical, mental, or social in nature — you can end up causing more harm than good. Always be willing to reach out to those that you love to ask for help and support when it’s needed.

10. Keep Up on Your Health

Maintaining your health for as long as possible should be a primary goal in retirement. After all, a properly functioning body, mind, and soul are extremely helpful when you’re striving to maintain peace and happiness. With that in mind, remember to keep a calendar with all of your dental and doctors’ appointments.

Also, remember to schedule any and all preventative health check-ups that are recommended, so that you can catch any problems as early as possible.

11. Pamper Yourself

When you spend your life pouring effort into your relationships, your job, and your environment, in general, it can be difficult to think of yourself at all. Once you’re retired, though, it provides the perfect opportunity to finally pamper yourself.

Going to a spa, planning an extended fishing trip, jogging every morning, binge-watching your favorite shows, whatever it might look like, retirement is the perfect opportunity to take some time for yourself.

12. Give Back to Your Community

While self-care is an excellent benefit of retirement, it’s important to balance it out by giving back into your community as well. You can do this by volunteering to help a local school, church, or government programs. You can help operate a food bank, take the lead on a local fundraiser, or get involved in helping with local elections.

Once again, the options are endless, and the activity of pouring yourself into your community — especially on a volunteer basis — can have a powerful effect on your overall happiness.

13. Travel More

Family schedules and work demands can make it difficult to travel during your career. However, once the kids are grown up and work is behind you, you can take as much time as you please to finally travel.

Whether you’re heading a couple of towns over or circumnavigating the globe, visiting new places can be an amazing tool to help boost your mood.

14. Get a Pet

Pets are renowned for their amazing effect on your overall mood and happiness. You may have wanted a pet in the past, but it was too difficult to manage caring for them while you were away at work every day.

Now that you’re at home on a regular basis and have control over your own schedule, you can both choose a pet and put in the proper time to train, care for, and love on them.

15. Get a Part-Time Job

Finally, if you find that you’re atrophying without the purpose and drive that a job provided for you, you can still go back to work without fully committing to that restrictive 9 to 5 rat race. Picking up a part-time or work-from-home job can allow you to tap into the feeling that you’re making a difference (and generating an income, to boot) while still leaving the bulk of your time in your own control.


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