The day is coming when you may decide to depart the working world and join those lucky people living in retirement. You have paid your dues, and now it is time to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Retirement can be a time to do what you have always wanted to do with your life.
Once you make the move, you want to get the most out of those days by living a second act that stimulates your senses and gives you a reason to get out of bed each morning. If you call it quits at 65 your retirement could last for 20 or more years. Here are some important ingredients that can help you live the best retired life possible:
A healthy balance between activity and relaxation. Few retirees would be satisfied with a retirement made up entirely of doing nothing. Sure, after a busy career the first months or initial year of retirement may involve catching your breath a bit. But what about the many years to follow? A life filled with only relaxation can lead to boredom. The best solution can be to seek a balance between activities to keep busy and downtime to take it easy. Finding the right combination that meets your personal tastes can help to keep the days interesting and exciting.
Meaningful moments. At the end of the day, it can be rewarding to look back and see that you have accomplished something of worth. It may be as simple as helping a neighbor in need or as much as dedicating a day at the local shelter. Retirement can begin to lose its luster if you fill the hours without helping others. Meaningful moments and achievements can help give substance to your day and perhaps even inspire you to greater things.
Energy to keep at it. Things get tougher as we age, and slowing down is a natural occurrence. But we don’t want to watch life from the sidelines. Though it’s not always easy, if we can push ourselves a little bit each day to get moving and stay active we will enjoy better health in the long run.
A happy spouse. After many years together making it through the good and the bad, the ability to bring on a smile or laugh with our partner never grows old. What brought us together so long ago has matured and evolved, and hopefully we are learning to accept the inevitable changes that come with the years together.
Remembering the life lived. One of the cruelest parts of aging can be memory challenges. Thoughts of our most vivid life moments may dim with time. Some people are blessed to have sharp minds that are able to recall distant days and events in great detail. But remembering special events and the people most central to our lives is not guaranteed as we age.
Maintaining independence. In an ideal retired life, we will be able to remain in our own home in relative safety and have sufficient money to pay our bills and maintain a reasonable quality of life. But sometimes it becomes necessary to increasingly rely on others as we age.
Being a good grandparent. In the role of grandparent, we have the rare opportunity to be the good guy virtually all of the time. When trouble rears its ugly head, we can call in the reinforcements otherwise known as parents. Our job is to spoil, love and instill happiness in these joyful little people. We all want to be the favorite grandparent who the youngsters look forward to visiting. The good news is all it really takes is some love and attention with a dash of patience and a good sense of humor.
Living according to a personal retirement plan. Whether you want to explore things you have never done before or take it easy, having some idea of how your retired life will look before you quit your job is a great way to focus on the things that can maximize your retirement happiness. Think about what activities, hobbies and events will make up your days, who you will choose to spend your time with and develop a plan to maintain good physical and mental health.
Sharing love. Whether it’s a spouse, good friend, family member or even a fluffy pet, we all need a recipient of our love. We know how happy we become when someone makes the effort to show they love us. And for many people it can be even better to give than to receive.
Not being a burden. In the role of parents, many people have been the person who children could rely upon. We took care of their needs for school, security, health and support. Now in retirement we hope to avoid reversing those roles and becoming a burden on their busy lives.
Dave Bernard is the author of "I Want To Retire! Essential Considerations for the Retiree to Be". Although not yet retired, he focuses on identifying and understanding the essential components of a fulfilling and meaningful retirement. He shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement-Only The Beginning.