It’s time to get deep right away.
What makes you happy?
Happiness comes in various forms and presents itself in a multitude of ways throughout your life. For you, happiness may feel like the sunshine on your cheek during a morning walk, a shared laugh with your child over the dinner table, the elation of an excellent idea at work, the adventures hidden in the pages of your favorite books, the deepest breath you take all day.
While retirement may look, sound, and feel different for every person, one thick thread connects us all:
The desire to create a joyful, prosperous, and comfortable life.
In other words, all retirees want to find happiness.
But happiness, like anything worthwhile, takes effort, discipline, and intention. So where should you start?
Sure, you want to have all of your financial ducks in a row—enough saved in your retirement accounts, a plan for withdrawals, a watchful eye on taxes, a long-term plan for investing, a risk management plan that protects you and your loved ones, etc.
Though crucial, happiness travels far beyond money’s influence. Money is simply a tool—a powerful tool—to help you create your ideal life. To discover happiness, though, you need to take it one step further and consider your overall lifestyle.
Crafting a retirement lifestyle full of purpose, meaning, and value isn’t easy, but it will help you retire happy. Everyone’s retirement will be unique to them; still, there are a handful of characteristics that can help give your golden years some extra luster.
1. Happy Retirees Have Clear Purpose
Leisure isn’t a lifestyle; it’s an activity.
So, things like golfing the best courses, afternoons spent on the lake, walking the beach, and convincing yourself to read War and Peace are merely individual events you may or may not want to take part in.
But one thing’s for sure: they aren’t your lifestyle.
Your lifestyle denotes your behavior, habits, and general way of being and existing. And your retirement lifestyle shouldn’t just be endless hours of clearing the sand from your toes or reading books alone. It must have more meaning and purpose to keep you fulfilled throughout your golden years.
Where can you find purpose as a retiree?
First, stop conflating retirement with your identity. You are so much more than “retired.” You’re a person with dreams, goals, and ambitions, so it could be helpful to construct a retirement title—or the way you want to define this next phase of your life. Be mindful of your goals, values, and the many things you may want to accomplish and use them as a springboard to fuel your future lifestyle.
You may be surprised to learn that many people aren’t looking for a conventional retirement—a significant number want to keep working. In fact, A Gallup poll found that 75% of people plan to work past the “traditional” retirement age. Think through what working past retirement age may mean to you. Ask yourself,
- Do you want to pursue an encore career, start a business, or freelance your services?
- Is part-time work in an adjacent field something you’re interested in?
- Would you prefer to dedicate time to your hobbies or other interests?
- Do you want to pursue additional education, whether through certifications, designations, degrees, or otherwise?
Purpose in retirement can also come from increased volunteering and charitable giving activities. Giving your time, talents, and resources to causes you care about can make you feel connected to your community, meet like-minded people, and find happiness.
2. They Create and Nurture Meaningful Social Connections
While freeing, retirement can be a lonely and isolating experience.
All of a sudden, you don’t have the built-in connections you’ve worked so hard to foster throughout your career. Without your 9-5, you may not meet your friend for lunch in the city, or get together with co-workers for Friday happy hours, or simply enjoy a smile and quick conversation during a much-needed work break—it can be an immense challenge. Making a concerted effort to form meaningful social contacts in retirement is even more essential for snowbirds, as you’re only in one spot half of the time.
Whether you’re a self-proclaimed introvert or extrovert, people crave meaningful relationships with others. That’s why it’s critical for new and seasoned retirees to create and nurture social connections intentionally. Community is essential for long-term happiness and is something that retirees should take seriously. Where can you find community?
- Regular volunteering
- Exercising/workout classes
- Local events
- Groups of like-minded people (book club, writing group, etc.)
- Place of worship
In addition to forming new relationships, it’s also important to nurture existing ones. Ask yourself,
- Are you making the effort of staying in contact with your close friends? It’s so easy to go months or even years without talking to some of the people in your life, but you must make an effort to deepen your friendships along the way.
- How can you do a better job of maintaining that relationship? It might be through phone calls, letters, visits, weekly lunches, etc.
- Are you the type of friend you want to have? Looking in the mirror can often be the most profound teacher. Sometimes it can be as simple as treating others the way you would like to be treated.
How will you know which relationships to prioritize? Check out this model to help you evaluate your relationships.
3. Physical Health Is Top On Their List
Getting back into tip-top shape is a tale as old as time and the namesake of many failed new years resolutions. But retirees who want to be happy and fulfilled in their lifestyles will make physical health a priority.
Staying healthy allows you actually to enjoy all the hard-won work and effort it took to get to retirement in the first place. A Merrill Lynch Age Wave Study uncovered that physical health soared to priority number one for Baby boomers for a fulfilling retirement.
It’s not too hard to see why.
Regular physical activity can ward off health conditions that can jeopardize retirees’ safety, like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, depression, etc. It can also boost your immune system, improve your balance, inspire creativity, help you sleep, and improve your mood—yep, exercise can practically be magic.
According to Harvard Medical School, exercise can also help seniors stay independent longer, which allows them to age with more agency.
How can you adopt an active lifestyle in retirement? Here are some ideas:
- Exercise classes (yoga, pilates, jazzercise, etc.)
- Swimming/water aerobics
- Strength and balance training
Not all of these activities will be right for you. Talk with your doctor before you commit to an exercise regime or introduce any new movement into your routine.
4. They Exercise Their Brains and Never Stop Learning
Exercising isn’t just for the body; it also does wonders for your mind.
Learning new things keeps your brain sharp, agile, and inquisitive. It can also improve concentration, attention to detail, and memory function.
Learning forces you to step outside of your box and experience something different. For you, that might mean watching a documentary on a topic you’re interested in, deep-diving into a podcast series that excites you, playing brain games, or simply trying a new activity like picking up a new instrument, taking a class, visiting a museum, or joining a book/film club.
Commit to introducing yourself to “newness” in your retirement routine. Maybe you want to take a 6-week art class at the community center or commit to reading a book in a different genre. No matter what you choose, engage in activities that keep your mind fresh and challenged.
A great place to start is to create a “curious list,” or the things you’d like to learn more about in retirement. The best thing about this list is that you don’t have to commit your time to complete it—it’s simply a space for you to nurture your desires.
As an added bonus, physical exercise can also improve brain function, so if you’re already living an active lifestyle, you’re helping out your brain as well.
5. A Positive Outlook of Optimism and Gratitude Guide Their Life
Sometimes, optimism is the best medicine. When you’re optimistic, you generally believe that good things will happen and that you’ll have a bright future. Being optimistic won’t just provide a sunnier outlook on life, it could also help you live longer.
A research article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America found that optimism led to an 11-15% increase in longevity and contributed to exceptionally long life expectancies—85 years old and beyond. This significant finding creates a link between a joyful mindset and a long life, which is something that retirees should pay attention to.
This research illustrates that your brain is powerful, and even positive thoughts can have a transformative effect on your mind and body.
In addition to optimism, gratitude plays an important role in your happiness levels in retirement. Infusing gratitude in your life makes you more content with what you have. It may also curb feelings of wanting more or searching for “enough,” which can help you spend intentionally, not spontaneously, in your golden years.
Those who lead with gratitude tend to be more generous, fulfilled, and satisfied in their lives.
Work With A Financial Team That Cares About Your Financial Wellness and Personal Satisfaction
Your money and life are deeply intertwined—like a story and its reader, each one brings out the fullest expression of the other.
Our team can help you create a plan early to help make your retirement be as exceptional as possible. Too often, people forget about the importance of cultivating a lifestyle you’re excited about. After all, what’s the point in saving all that money if you aren’t going to use it to make your life extraordinary?
At TFS, we help you use your money wisely and with intention. We’re passionate about the nuances of retirement planning and want to walk beside you as you make this important transition.
It’s our joy to help you use your money to live an exciting and happy life. Reach out to our team today to learn more about how we can help you make your retirement a happy one.