Who hasn’t thought about what they’ll do during retirement? Sleeping in with your loved ones and no annoying alarm clocks to ruin the peace. Relaxing by the beach with a cocktail and a murder mystery novel. To finally be free of the trappings a 9-5 job brings – long commute times, condescending bosses, and never-ending reports. But as Uncle Ben from Spider-Man said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Retirement brings freedom, but it also means relying on yourself without external prompting. Following these five tips can help in ensuring your golden years are happy and fulfilling.
Plan your time and set out goals
Too much flexibility and idle time can be stressful, especially when you’re used to the rigor and stimulation the workforce entails. An empty schedule looks exciting at first, but eventually, you’ll dread the lack of activity. People are creatures of habit by evolution, longing for stability, and predictability in the long term. Human beings are healthier, with established routines and patterns. Add a few regular activities in your schedule like exercising, visiting your grandkids, or journaling your thoughts.
Take the time to also think about what makes you happy and brings meaning to your life. What do you hope to be doing now that you have the time? Do you picture yourself being with your family more often or inventing new dishes to cook? How about understanding how the technology works? The world is ready for the taking. Dust off that diary you’ve been scribbling when you were daydreaming in your former work cubicle.
Start a business
Explore getting an “encore” job to stay engaged and continue generating income. You could start small by baking pies and cookies for events or go all-in by checking out restaurant franchises for sale. Continuing to work in a less-demanding career can help in your transition to retirement, as compared to leaving cold turkey. It can also ease your worries about not having enough money for your day to day and affords you time to think about what you want to do.
Work gives a sense of validation, allowing one to be part of something bigger than oneself. It also keeps the mind active with opportunities to solve problems and make dreams into a reality. The question now is, what work would you rather be doing?
Find a community and volunteer
Your social circle will get smaller without set interactions. After years of meeting people through work, it will be a struggle to maintain friendships and expand your network. Looking actively for a local community where you can volunteer or enrolling in short course classes can help in reducing feelings of loneliness aging naturally brings. Being retired doesn’t mean stopping from being an active contributor to society.
Seek out a mental health expert
Retirement comes with a loss of the identity you’re used to having for most of your adult life. You can no longer introduce yourself as a brand manager, a banker, or a trade specialist, without adding “former” to the title. You start to question who you are beyond your profession, leading to an increased risk of depression and existentialism. It’s better to have professional help throughout this emotional journey. Mental health experts can equip you with the knowledge and tools to deal and settle with your new lifestyle.
Cultivating healthy habits, whether retired or not, is key to increasing the quality of one’s life. It will take a lot of experimentation to find the right routine that brings satisfaction and fulfillment to your golden years. It’s up to you how you want to spend your newfound freedom.