Happily Retired: 15 Tips to Enjoy Life After Retirement

By  Danny Newman

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What will you do when you retire? Learn 15 tips to find purpose in your golden years, enjoy each day, and remain happily retired for life.

It’s finally happening. After decades of long hours and hard work, it’s time to hang up your hat and retire.

You’ve been dreaming of this moment for as long as you can remember! However, now those coveted golden years are actually upon you, you can’t help but wonder what life’s actually going to be like…

Will it really be the sunshine-and-rainbow-extravaganza that society suggests it should be? Or is there a danger you’ll be disappointed?

You recall a couple of telling statistics – that of the 34 million Americans who are aged 65 or above, almost 2 million suffer from depression. And that 60% of retirees who return to work do so because they simply want something to do!

Maybe there’s more to being happily retired than meets the eye…

If you’re on the cusp of retirement and those sorts of thoughts are drifting through your mind, then you’re in the right place. Today, we’re going through 15 top tips to help you enjoy an amazing, contented, and fulfilling life after retirement.

1. Maintain a Strong Social Life

A thriving social life is invaluable when you retire. Not only does it ensure you stay busy throughout the week, but you develop a strong support network that can keep you company and lend a hand whenever you need something.

Furthermore, one-third of people suffer from loneliness later in life. Having strong social connections – be it from family, friends, or community groups – reduces the risk of isolation and the negative emotions that can follow.

As much as anything else, though, having an active social life is about enjoying your retirement! No man is an island, after all. Whether you play golf each week with friends, visit relatives at the weekend, join a social club, or go out for dinner with old colleagues once a month, you’re having fun and feeding your soul.

2. Establish a Daily Routine

One reason retirement can be problematic is that you lose the routine you may have held for decades. It’s discombobulating! Your days lose their structure, and a sense of lethargy can creep in. Not only that, but, left to your own devices, it’s also easy to fall into bad habits – like oversleeping and forgoing exercise.

That’s why we suggest you establish a new daily routine when you retire. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, nor do you have to stick to it too rigidly. Simply waking up, eating your meals, and going to bed at similar times each day can help.

Incorporate some physical activity, family time, and spiritual practice, too, and you’ll be onto a winner. Indeed, according to WebMD, routines reduce your stress levels, make you sleep better, and improve your health – among a slew of other benefits. You’ll feel a greater sense of purpose and enjoy a more fulfilling life.

3. Stay Active in Retirement

Another key ingredient to a happy life after retirement is exercise. As one of the most important ways to boost our overall health, exercise will delay and/or prevent a slew of physical and psychological problems associated with aging. It strengthens your muscles as well, which enables you to remain independent for longer.

The CDC recommends adults aged 65 and above do at least 2.5 hours of “moderate-intensity activity” (e.g., brisk walking) or 75 minutes of “vigorous-intensity activity” (e.g., hiking or jogging) each week. They should also work on their balance and do muscle-strengthening activities for 3 days and 2 days a week, respectively.

A few examples of good physical types of exercise for older adults include:

  • Yoga (or chair yoga if you have mobility issues)
  • Pilates
  • Tai chi
  • Walking (adjusting the pace according to your abilities)
  • Zumba
  • Workouts with resistance bands
  • Weight lifting
  • Swimming/water aerobics
  • Gardening

4. Eat a Healthy Diet

On the subject of health, try your best to maintain a healthy diet too. As with exercise, this is vital for everyone, regardless of age. But it becomes even more important when you enter your golden years.

Indeed, research suggests retirees often change their eating habits – especially men, who tend to eat less healthily and are more likely to become obese. A well-balanced diet also aids weight control, boosts energy levels, and decreases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions.

Stay hydrated, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and avoid foods that are high in cholesterol and saturated fats. A diet full of whole grains, lean meat, seafood, and legumes should provide all the nutrients you need without the excess calories.

5. Meditate

Meditation is an age-old practice that can be invaluable as you enter, well…old age. Now you have more free time, why not give it a shot?

Proven by science to reduce stress levels, alleviate depression, facilitate a sense of calm, and even slow the decline of certain brain areas, it’s a powerful practice to include in your daily routine. You don’t have to do it for long either! Even 10 minutes of meditation a day can be beneficial to people who stick with it long-term.

A good place to start is with a popular type of meditation called mindfulness. Defined as non-judgmental awareness of the present moment, you hone in on a sensory experience (such as your breath), focus your attention on it, and notice any thoughts that pop into your head – letting them come and go without judgment.

6. Sort Out Your Finances

Neglecting the financial side of retirement is a recipe for stress and uncertainty. With any luck, though, you’ll have been preparing for it for some time – spending, saving, and investing sensibly over the years so you can enjoy a life of leisure as a retiree!

Alas, this isn’t always the case. For example, the median sum of money in the retirement accounts of Americans aged 65+ is just $87.7k. Considering that may have to last a few decades, you can see why so many retirees struggle.

We could write an entire article on this topic! For now, though, our best advice is to hire a reputable financial advisor to help get your finances in order. Just be sure to find someone who’s a fiduciary advisor. These financial professionals work independently and should have your best interests at heart – as opposed to someone who receives a commission for recommending certain financial products.

If you prefer to meet with a financial advisor in person, consider hiring a nearby financial advisor who can be there for you throughout your retirement to offer a hands-on approach. Otherwise, you may want to consider hiring a specialist financial advisor who can meet with you online, no matter where you or they live. By expanding your advisor search to include professionals who live across the country, you may find an advisor who specializes in working with people just like you.

And be sure to compare the costs of financial advisors you interview to ensure the amount you pay is fair and appropriate for the services you expect to receive in your golden years.

7. Start a New Hobby

One of the primary joys of retirement is that you reclaim your time. There’s no more 9 to 5, which means your days are yours to do as you please! It’s fantastic…but it also opens the door to an oft-unexpected challenge:

What on earth should you do all day?

One popular option is to pick up a new hobby. Whether it’s learning an instrument, learning a second language, going fishing, traveling, teaching yourself how to draw, writing a book, or playing a sport, hobbies are perfect ways to have fun, meet new people, and do something worthwhile with your time.

So what’s something you’ve always wanted to do? What did you daydream about on those long days in the office? Now you’re retired and have full control of your schedule, you can take those dreams and turn them into reality.

A retired husband and wife enjoy playing VR 3D games at home on couch.
Image Credit: Depositphotos.

8. Focus on Your Current Pastimes

Picking up a new hobby is great. But you could just as easily double down on the pastimes you do already – especially if you’ve been unable to indulge in them much throughout your working life.

If you love reading science-fiction novels, go ahead and read them! Love to paint beautiful landscapes in wispy watercolors? Paint those landscapes! Have a favorite band that you love to watch live? Book tickets and go see them.

The world’s your oyster, and you have time to spare, so now’s the ideal time to embrace your hobbies. Bear in mind that not all of them are made equal, though! Try to pick activities that keep you active, energize you, and stimulate your mind.

9. Practice Gratitude

Have you ever felt annoyed and grateful at the same time? How about lonely and grateful? Or sad and grateful? No? Neither have we!

And for good reason. Gratitude is a powerful emotion that tends to rid negativity from your system and put a smile on your lips instead.

It’s worth remembering this when you retire. After all, despite the many positive aspects of retirement, there are also challenges – like loneliness, a lack of purpose, and occasional health problems. If you can find things to be grateful for, you can combat such issues and refocus on the brighter side(s) of your new life.

One way to do this is to keep what’s called a gratitude journal. Every day, you sit down, take your notebook and write about what you’re grateful for at that moment. Want to take it a step further? Remind yourself what you’re grateful for at times when you’re feeling stressed or annoyed as well (e.g., when you’re waiting in traffic!).

10. Give Back

One of the secrets to a happy life is the act of giving – doing things that benefit others as opposed to just yourself. It doesn’t matter whether you volunteer for a good cause, make a donation to charity, or simply compliment someone on their appearance. The outcome is the same: it feels good to do good.

Take this review article from BMC Public Health, in which volunteering “had favorable effects on depression, life satisfaction, [and] well-being”. The evidence, both anecdotal and scientific, indicates that giving back works wonders for your personal well-being.

Now you have more time on your hands, then, why not use some of it to partake in volunteerism? You’ll be contributing to a good cause and doing something sociable at the same time – ticking off another suggestion on this list in the process!

11. Set Goals in Retirement

One of the main dangers of retiring is that you lose an all-important sense of purpose. While it’s objectively untrue, it can seem like your best years are behind you now you’ve stopped working – that there’s nothing left to achieve or work toward. In worst-case scenarios, you can start to feel a little irrelevant.

Unless that is, you decide on a brand new set of specific, measurable, and achievable goals to aim for in retirement!

There’s power in goal-setting. Aspirations give you direction, increase productivity, and boost your levels of motivation. Suddenly, there’s a focus to your days again. You’ll wake up with a hunger in your belly again, eager to edge closer to whatever goal(s) you’ve set yourself.

12. Retire in Stages

If you’re not ready to step back from your career, why not ease your way into retirement by winding down gently? You could step back bit by bit over a number of years, easing off the workload until you’re ready to retire fully.

For example, some soon-to-be retirees decide to go part-time before moving down to one day a week and then finally just doing sporadic consultancy work. Take this sort of tack, and retirement will come as less of a shock to the system.

Like the mountaineers who ascend Everest in stages to acclimatize to the altitude, you’ll adjust gradually to the change of lifestyle. As a result, it feels more natural when you hang up your hat, which means the emotional fallout that many retirees experience isn’t as pronounced.

13. Get a New Job

Okay, hear us out! While a job may be the last thing you want right now, working after retirement is a totally different experience from working before it. After all, this time, you’re doing it because you want to – not because you have to.

You could see this as an opportunity to do something totally different. Are there any particular roles or industries that have always interested you? Or do you have a business idea you’d like to pursue? Or could you take whatever skills and knowledge you’ve accrued throughout your career and start doing consultancy work?

Whatever you do, you can expect to regain a sense of meaning and purpose. Oh, and the extra money you’ll be making won’t hurt either!

14. Travel the World

We’ve mentioned travel in the context of picking up new hobbies. However, it’s such a fantastic way to spend your life after retirement that it’s worth talking more about!

Whether you’re visiting friends who live overseas or exploring destinations you’ve had on your bucket list for years, traveling is a life-giving experience that delivers a host of proven benefits. Among other things, it relieves stress and boosts creativity, enhances happiness, and decreases the risk of depression.

It’s no surprise that almost 60% of Americans dream of traveling when they retire! If you’ve been one of them, then it’s about time you turn that dream into reality. Grab a globe, give it a spin, and see where your mood takes you.

Senior Couple Enjoying Beach Holiday Running Down Dune
Image Credit: Depositphotos.

15. Get Out Into Nature

Did you know that spending time in nature can improve your physical health and well-being? Seriously! It reduces feelings of stress, fear, and anger while boosting positive emotions. Not only that, but your blood pressure, muscle tension, and heart rate all drop at the same time.

This isn’t just a by-product of being physically active either (e.g., going for a walk or running around the local park). The magic happens simply because you’re in nature, surrounded by space, greenery, and fresh air.

So put on your boots, grab a jacket, and visit the nearest park, beach, or area of wilderness next time you’re looking for good retirement ideas! Want to take it a step further? Combine it with a brisk walk, hike, or run with friends to roll nature, exercise, and socializing into a single activity.

Happily Retired? Remember These Tips for Life after Retirement

Millions of people wait their entire lives for retirement, only to be disappointed by the reality of stepping back from work. It’s no surprise in some ways.

After all, it’s a huge change – a rite of passage that entails a shift in your identity as much as to your schedule. Alas, the end result is that your long-awaited life of leisure can turn into one of tedium and regret.

But don’t worry! As we’ve seen, there are countless ways to ensure you avoid that miserly fate and end up happily retired instead. With any luck, the suggestions in this article will help in that regard. Keep them in mind, put them into action, and your life after retirement should be everything you’d hoped for and more.

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This article originally appeared on Wealthtender. To make Wealthtender free for our readers, we earn money from advertisers, including financial professionals and firms that pay to be featured. This creates a natural conflict of interest when we favor their promotion over others. Wealthtender is not a client of these financial services providers.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be considered financial advice. You should consult a financial professional before making any major financial decisions.

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