Most of us would like to at least have the option to retire at some point. There are those who may choose to keep working in some capacity, but working by choice (rather than necessity) can be considered part of the desired retirement mix. Other people plan to get as far from the working world as possible. What our retirement will look like depends on our personal preferences and priorities. Here are some of the most important ingredients for retirement happiness:
Having something on the calendar. Once finished with the working world, whatever is on the calendar becomes our personal responsibility. Having something to look forward to - a trip, a dinner party or a concert - can help sustain an expectation of good things to be. An empty calendar does not bode well for the excitement and variety we look for in our second act.
Being healthy. The more challenged we are with our physical health, the less we are generally able to enjoy day to day living. We cannot stop the aging process, but we can try to do the right things along the way to encourage a healthier mind and body. Aim to appreciate the days when you enjoy good health.
Having enough money. If you do not have enough saved, the retirement you are hoping for is not going to happen. Have you done the math to figure out how much you actually need to be comfortable? If you calculate that you will be able to cover your bills and have enough left over to live a good life, you are on a reasonable path. But don't make the mistake of working yourself to death in order to save for retirement. In our second act, time can become an even rarer commodity than money.
Someone to share it all with. A partner, spouse or close friend can help us to live a moment more fully by sharing an experience with someone we care for. A sunset is beautiful, but when shared with a loved one, isn't it just a bit more special?
Finding a little fun. Think back on a time when you were happy, smiling and just plain glad to be alive. What was it that you were doing? What caused you to feel that way? Now with time to spend as you desire, aim to do that again. Even if you are not able or interested in doing the same thing, finding a little fun in your retirement days can bring on a welcome smile.
Expanding our horizons. Now that we have the time to do what we want, there are many possibilities. The time is right to try all the things we did not have time for while living the life of worker bees. Step outside of the comfort box and get a little crazy. Variety can help keep the day fresh and interesting.
Enough interests that engage us. No one wants to be bored in retirement. This is the chance to spend our time as we want, doing what we most enjoy. It is important to plan ahead for pending retirement and the free time we will have. Get a jump on identifying the interests and passions you hope to enjoy once retired.
Being patient. Getting older can try your patience and make it harder to get along day to day. Since we may not be as quick or energetic as we once were, a little patience when it comes to the realities of aging can improve the quality of your retirement experience.
Realistic challenges. Who does not enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes with successfully meeting a challenge? Whether climbing the nearest mountain, getting those persnickety roses to bloom or writing your first short story, achieving goals can make you feel better about yourself.
It takes more than a large nest egg to create a worthwhile retired life. There are a lot of ingredients that, when mixed together, just might be the recipe for your retirement happiness.
Dave Bernard is the author of "I Want To Retire! Essential Considerations for the Retiree to Be". Although not yet retired, he focuses on identifying and understanding the essential components of a fulfilling and meaningful retirement. He shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement-Only The Beginning.
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