3 Necessities for a Happy Retirement

A satisfying retirement requires these essential ingredients.

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When the time is right, many people hope to move into a retirement life that is fulfilling and exciting. Some people search for relaxation away from the working world, while others have a list of things they have never done and cannot wait to get started on. Some retirees also continue working in some capacity, but perhaps in a different field or role than they have pursued in the past.

However, whatever direction you decide to go in, there are a few essential elements of a happy retirement. Here are three necessities for a satisfying retirement:

Enough money to last for the rest of your life. An obviously important piece of the retirement puzzle is accumulating enough money to quit your job by saving, investing, and perhaps a little luck. You need to have enough in your bank account to pay regular bills and to pursue other retirement goals including travel, home improvements, and hobbies. It’s also a good idea to have a financial safety cushion for emergencies.

If you haven’t saved enough to support your retirement needs and wants, you may need to maintain a job in retired life. But a retirement job doesn’t need to be an unpleasant experience. Sometimes you can choose a second career you are passionate about and really enjoy.

Of course, for some people, having to continue to report to a job is not worth the extra income. The trade-off between acquiring more money and living a better quality of life starting now should be carefully considered. How much is X dollars more worth to you when compared to the time and effort required to achieve it? Is the incremental amount worth your time and the wear and tear on your mind and body? Instead of delaying retirement, sometimes retirees downsize their lifestyle to fit into the amount they have saved for retirement.

A list of exciting activities to keep busy. Simply having all the money you will ever need is not enough for a fulfilling retirement. Staying active in retirement is essential for mental and physical health. Too many retirees slow down to the point where they are just existing, rather than pursuing what they are passionate about. It is not necessarily important to have a long list of activities that interest you, but it is important to identify a few things that excite you and give you a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

It’s best to identify a few retirement activities before you retire. One way to help occupy your days is to look for interests that require both short-term and long-term commitments. Short-term projects keep you busy today and into the immediate future. Longer-term projects, like learning a new language or playing a musical instrument, may take years or may never be completed. Cultivating a combination of these two types of activities can help you keep your retirement dance card full.

A healthy mind and body. It will be difficult to enjoy retirement if your health is failing. It’s inevitable that aging will take a toll on our bodies, but we do not have to be passive about it. Staying active physically and mentally is more important in retirement than at any other time. Prior to retirement, the demands of work and raising a family keep us engaged and active. In retirement, it is up to us to replace those activities with our own.

Regular and consistent exercise is a major contributor to overall health. It is important to find an exercise or routine that you like (or at least do not hate) so you can keep at it. Join a spa, find a partner, or hire a personal trainer—whatever it takes to keep you going. Also remember to engage your mind by pursuing creative activities including puzzles, card games, writing, painting, playing music, or telling stories. Keeping active will help you to feel alive.

Dave Bernard is not yet retired but has begun his due diligence to plan for a fulfilling retirement. With a focus on the non-financial aspects of retiring, he shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement–Only the Beginning.