Published by Mark Ring, Managing Partner, Founding Partner and Wealth Advisor
Many Americans dream about retirement. They work hard for 50 or so years and want to finally be able to enjoy some time to themselves and do the things they had always dreamed about. That being said, relaxing on a beach in Florida isn’t everyone’s idea of a happy retirement. Some people find themselves getting bored or unhappy after leaving the jobs that gave them something to do for the last couple decades. Here are 6 ways you can help pursue a happier retirement and make sure all your hard work pays off.
1. Find 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 new hobby are great ways to find purpose in your day-to-day life.
2. Practice Gratitude and Contentment
It’s no secret that money can buy peace of mind and less stress, but it’s less likely to buy happiness. Researchers have found increased income is associated with increased levels of happiness and life satisfaction up to a point—around $95,000 per year for an individual’s optimal life satisfaction, although that amount varies greatly worldwide. Beyond that threshold, happiness levels plateau, and additional increases in income result in negligible changes in happiness (while levels of stress about money and discontentment also tend to rise).
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’ll 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. Stay Healthy
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. 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 pressure 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. Prioritize Friendships
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.
Get Started Today
We at Jacob William Advisory know you’ve worked your whole life for a happy and healthy retirement. Whether you’re retiring in 10 years or 20, we’re here to help you navigate the path to a fulfilling retirement by helping you build a solid financial plan for the future. Take the retirement readiness quiz to find out how prepared you are for retirement or contact our office by calling 410-821-6724 or emailing [email protected]
Mark Ring is a Managing Partner, Founding Partner and Wealth Advisor at Jacob William Advisory, a wealth management firm whose sole mission is to service their clients’ needs beyond their expectations. Mark has over 30 years of industry experience and for the past decade, he has been committed to building Jacob William Advisory into one of the foremost wealth advisory firms. Mark graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and spends his time outside of the office with his wife, Nancy, and his two wonderful children. He gives his time to numerous nonprofit organizations related to education and the arts, often serving as a board member. He enjoys playing tennis, golf, bicycling, cooking, and traveling. Learn more about Mark by connecting with him on LinkedIn.
For a comprehensive review of your personal situation, always consult with a tax or legal advisor.
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