What makes for a happy retirement?
Happiness… the state of being happy, cheerful, contented. Enjoying a pleasurable or satisfying experience. It is something that we all strive for – to be happy. And when we reach our retirement, we really want to make sure that we achieve it!
But do you really know what will make you happy when you retire? Do you have goals that you’ve been jotting down on a list? Do you want to dedicate your time to your family and others around you? Or perhaps you have a specific project that you have already started and are looking forward to focusing your energy on.
Whatever it may be, it’s important to have an idea in mind about how you will make your retirement years the best you’ve ever had.
Family, friends and your community
When the routine of nine to five is no longer necessary, you have the perfect opportunity to focus on relationships. Humans are social beings and if you’ve spent your working life surrounded by colleagues, you might find that retirement initially feels somewhat lonely… even if you spend every day with a partner, you could still miss interaction with others.
This is where you can embrace your extended social network and keep connected. Regular family get-togethers can be emotionally fulfilling… whether with adult children, grandkids, siblings or your own elderly parents.
Or if family members are too far away for casual catch-ups, why not schedule a regular social event with friends?
Trivia nights, book clubs, movie sessions, sports matches… the list of activities is endless.
It’s also worthwhile reaching out to the wider community and finding new projects you can be involved in.
With so much more time on your hands, you could certainly consider becoming an active member of a local group.
If you have a green thumb, Sustainability Victoria has some great information about community gardens that you could connect with.
Or if you are keen to keep your mind or body active, U3A has locations around the country with a great selection of courses you can choose from… everything from sculpture, drawing and art appreciation through to yoga, table tennis or lawn bowls.
Find your purpose
If you know that full retirement isn’t quite right for you, then it could be a great opportunity to find a new path or purpose. Perhaps it is the perfect time for you to start your own small business… something that draws on your career skills but still allows you the freedom to enjoy a round of golf or a fishing trip without feeling the pressure to check your inbox every ten minutes.
Or maybe this is the time for you to give something back to your community. Engage in volunteer work and become the philanthropist you’ve imagined. There are many organisations that are always looking for extra people to get involved. From multicultural education services to mental health support groups or animal welfare, you are bound to find something that aligns with your values and makes you happy.
The state of your health is a crucial element when it comes to your happiness. This includes both physical and mental health.
In fact, it’s not uncommon for people to rank good health over financial security as the most important ingredient for a happy retirement… but these two elements are very closely connected.
A recent study indicated that almost half of us worry about money on a weekly basis, with one in four people worrying about their finances daily. Regardless of how much money you have in the bank or how well prepared you are for retirement, financial anxiety can create unwanted pressure on health and wellbeing.
In Australia we are lucky that we have a world class health system, but unexpected medical expenses can derail even the most well prepared financial plan. So, while some health issues cannot be foreseen, prevention is far better than cure. Look after your body… eat well, exercise daily and visit your medical practitioner for regular check-ups.
Be financially prepared
Finally, financial preparedness is a key element to happiness in retirement. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to have millions in your nest egg in order to be content… it is just about good planning and knowing what to expect when the time comes.
Seeking financial advice could alleviate some of the stresses associated with the transition to retirement and help you feel more prepared and ready for the years to come, before you leave the workforce.