So you’re at the point where retirement is just around the corner. After all the years of putting your nose to the grindstone, you’re almost ready to hang up your hat and punch out one last time. But let’s be real — it’s a little daunting to go from a lifetime of methodical work to a totally open schedule. How do you make the most of it without driving yourself (and possibly your spouse) crazy?
Well luckily you’re not alone in that uncertainty, which is why we’ve put together a nice little playbook to get you going into the greatest years of your life.
Step #1: Redefine What Retirement Means
Our society has taught us all to see retirement as a large sigh after a lifetime of labor, portraying work as a necessary evil that ends in blissful release. But the truth is that your third act will be a lot more rewarding if you continue to make yourself an asset to the world. There’s nothing wrong with relaxing, but now you also have the chance to view retirement more as the chance to refocus your energy on work you really want to do, but never could before.
We’re not saying you need to go pick up shifts at the local burger joint (unless you really want to), so put down the spatula. Instead, just try spending a percentage of your well-deserved free time contributing to something for the greater good. More on this subject in step #3.
Step #2: Keep It Healthy If You Want to Be Happy
Not to state the obvious here, but health is by far the most important factor in having a happy retirement. Sometimes we just have to remind ourselves of that. One study reports that retirees from all socioeconomic brackets agree that health comes before finances or personal relationships when it comes to happiness levels during retirement. The CDC tells us that if you’re 65+, you should be getting two and a half hours of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week, plus muscle training twice per week. That could be swimming laps at the local rec center, playing golf with your buddies or riding your bike more often. Basically, make conscious decisions to preserve your health and lay a solid foundation for the years ahead.
Step #3: Be Generous and Help Others
Everyone wants to feel useful, and that’s a lot easier to do when you have people to help. Do you have a specific set of skills that others would benefit from? Why not be a mentor? Some pensioners pursue mentorship to teach people in their old field the tricks of the trade, all while developing a rich new relationship. Others prefer to pass off their wisdom by volunteering to tutor local children who struggle with certain subjects in school.
Maybe you’re a retired accountant with a knack for numbers — use your skills to help fellow community members file their taxes. Whatever your calling, we’re sure you’ve learned a lot through the years and have a lot to contribute. You don’t get to this age without learning something, right?
Step #4: Expand Your Horizons and Deepen Your Current Passions
Allow us to get a little philosophical for a moment. More free time means more opportunity to go outside your comfort zone and explore new places and new passions. Simply put: Travel more and hone in on some hobbies! If you’re more conservative with your cash, you don’t have to throw down thousands of dollars for a cross-European excursion. Start with your own backyard and drive an RV across America.
But exploring doesn’t have to just pertain to travel. If you’ve always been into painting, why not perfect your craft further than you thought possible? Or maybe you want to start with something totally new and give the guitar a spin. Your only limit is your imagination.
Step #5: Spend More Time With People
Sure, meeting new people at an older age sounds kind of scary, but you’ve got plenty of time to strategize finding a new friend or two. The facts are there: Staying social keeps you healthier for longer. Take up adult art classes, join a bowling league, chat up someone at the coffee shop — the options are endless. This is also the age where you can create deeper relationships to the people you’re already connected to. Maybe you’re friendly with your neighbors but not close. Try inviting them over for a few game nights and cultivate that acquaintanceship into a full-blown friendship. In fact, good friendships are important for your happiness.
Related Articles For Your Twilight Years
This article is a good thought starter to gear you up for your next chapter, but it’s by no means a comprehensive guide. So to help keep the ball rolling, we’ve gathered a few related articles about maintaining your health and enjoying life during retirement:
Are you retired or soon to be? How are you easing into it? Let us know in the comments below.