By John Benedict
Retirement is an amazing journey—and you deserve one that makes you happy. But what does a happy retirement actually mean? The answer to that question will be different for everyone, and to enjoy a happier retirement, you need to determine what that means to you.
Here, we share some tips on how to prepare for a happier retirement. Enjoy your golden years the way you envision!
1. Find Your Purpose
The first secret to finding happiness in retirement doesn’t just apply to retirement. Studies show individuals who live a purpose-driven life are happier and healthier, on average, than those who don’t. Not only that, but they also live longer! A purposeful life is commonly associated with fulfillment and motivation and can be found in many ways. Volunteering for a local nonprofit or your church, spending time with your grandchildren, or pursuing a newfound hobby are great ways to find purpose in your day-to-day life.
2. Enjoy the Things That Really Matter
It’s no secret that money can buy comfort and less stress, but it is less likely to buy happiness. Your retirement lifestyle may not always mirror your pre-retirement lifestyle when your income level was at its peak.
Heavy expectations of what your life should look like—resulting from comparing yourself with others or the preconceptions of retirement imposed by the media—can be a huge mental drain and often result in feelings of failure and sadness over time. Instead, focus on what you do have (and what you have control over), and live in the moment as much as possible.
Also, reflect on the activities that bring you the most joy and orient your time during retirement to be surrounded by people that also enjoy the same things, since you will likely need to replace the social interaction that previously came from work.
Savoring the meaningful people and experiences in our life reminds us that many of our real needs can be fulfilled in ways that don’t involve spending money, despite what our consumer-driven society might lead us to believe.
Some of these needs include a connection with nature and with other beings (both human and non-human), the need for play and creative expression, and the need to know others and to be known ourselves. This mindset can nurture a fundamental orientation toward gratitude for the ways in which the earth and the people around us can meet our needs in non-monetary ways.
3. Take Care of Your Health
Declining health and how to pay for the associated medical bills is the biggest concern for many retirees. In fact, about 70% of Americans cite healthcare costs as the most pressing issue when planning for retirement. Incorporating long-term care planning into your overall financial plan can help ease this concern as you enter retirement.
Once in retirement, you can alleviate your chances of becoming seriously ill by prioritizing your mental and physical health. Remember that your brain is also a muscle and needs to be regularly stimulated to avoid atrophy. Previously your work helped to keep your mind regularly engaged and active, but if you don’t provide challenges (such as a new hobby, learning a new skill, playing games, or other mental activities), you may begin to see some signs of cognitive decline.
4. Consider a Phased Retirement
Another way to increase your happiness is to work part-time or use a phased approach to retirement. Adjusting to retirement is a huge transition! Going from working 40-plus hours a week for 30-plus years to suddenly having all the time in the world is a shock to the system, to say the least. It takes time to adjust, so don’t feel pressured to rush into retirement all at once. Case in point: it’s becoming increasingly popular for people to approach retirement in phases by slowly adjusting to reduced hours, part-time work, then eventually full retirement.
5. Make New Friends (and Keep the Old)
A Penn State study found that adults between ages 70-90 who reported more frequent and pleasant social interactions also displayed better cognitive performance on that day and the two subsequent days.
Prioritize connecting with your friends, family, and loved ones throughout retirement. Knowing that you have a strong support system can make a significant difference in your overall health and happiness, especially if you experience the loss of a spouse, fall on hard times, or suffer from declining health.
6. Plan Ahead
One of the best ways to improve your happiness in retirement is to have a plan for what you want it to look like. Articulating your vision for the future is a great way to motivate yourself to make it happen and enjoy a sense of fulfillment once your plan comes to fruition.
To bring some much-needed comfort during your golden years, it’s wise to prepare for potential retirement pitfalls like unexpected health issues or running out of money. These concerns can and should be incorporated into a retirement plan and thoroughly assessed by a qualified financial advisor.
Live the Retirement of Your Dreams
You’ve worked hard throughout your career, and now it’s time to enjoy your dream retirement. Whether that means traveling more, spending time with family, picking up a new hobby, or just relaxing, your retirement should reflect your unique needs and wants. At J2 Capital Management, we specialize in helping people plan for the retirement they want by focusing on comprehensive financial planning, retirement planning, investment management, and tax planning. No matter your goals, we’re here to help.
About John Benedict
John Benedict is CEO, investment advisor representative, and portfolio manager at J2 Capital Management, a boutique financial advisory firm specializing in in-house custom financial planning, tax, estate, and investment management. With over 20 years of experience, John is passionate about helping clients navigate uncertain markets, reduce risk, and plan for a sound future. John combined his talents and passion in statistics and technical analysis to create J2’s tactical strategies, managing them since the beginning of the organization. He is known for being a visionary and continually looking for ways to improve J2’s services and strategies to better serve his clients. John graduated from Central Michigan University with a degree in business administration and finance, and his thoughts on markets and technical analysis have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Investment News, and on Moneyshow.com. He was also a contributor to the book The StockTwits Edge: 40 Actionable Trade Set-Ups from Real Market Pros.When he’s not working, you can find John boating or participating in water sports and spending time with his wife, Janine, and his three children, Jack, Alexis, and Saraphina. To learn more about John, connect with him on LinkedIn. You can also register for his latest webinar on What Makes J2 Capital Management Different From Other Financial Advisors.