Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on NewRetirement.
An enjoyable retirement is the goal, right? You work your whole life and hopefully create and follow a plan so that you can kick back and do what you want to do when the time comes.
Well, a recent survey from Nationwide suggests that all is not going according to plan for many retirees. The company reports that a full 28% of retirees say that life in retirement is worse than it was when they were working. Which is a shame, considering how diligently many of us save and plan for our post-career lives.
And, with this economy, who knows what peril awaits those of us retiring in the near future.
Fortunately, there are ways you can improve your odds of having a more rewarding retirement, especially if you’re willing to be creative, resourceful and a bit adventurous.
1. Know That the Best Is Yet to Come!
Research from Age Wave and Merrill Lynch found that, of all periods in our life, we are happiest and most content between the ages of 65 and 74.
And, experts from Princeton University and the London School of Economics and Political Sciences found that happiness peaks at the ages of 23 and 69.
Whoa! 69! That is older than many of us. And, even if you have surpassed 69, there is still lots of happiness to be had — happiness does not generally drop off a cliff!
2. Think Big, Act Bold
When news broke in 2015 of a theft of upwards of $300 million of jewels and gold from the Hatton Gardens safe deposit facility in London’s diamond district, experts assumed that the physically demanding heist must have been pulled off by a team of extremely fit burglars.
But it turned out that what’s been described as one of the largest thefts in English legal history was actually the last hurrah of a group of mostly retirement-age crooks, some well into their 60s and 70s.
No. We know what you are thinking. And, NO!
No, we are NOT suggesting that anyone plan retirement by committing a crime.
But, we are absolutely suggesting that attempting such an ambitious caper at an age most people believe their biggest achievements are behind them shows that hitting retirement age doesn’t necessarily mean scaling back one’s aspirations.
Indeed, when Allianz Life asked 3,000 adults as part of its Gift of Time study how they viewed the extra years afforded by today’s longer lifespans, 49% said the increased longevity “could open a lot of new and interesting possibilities for people’s lives.”
For example, did you know that there are more entrepreneurs and more successful entrepreneurs over 50 than in any other age group?
What will you do with your long life?
3. Set New Goals and Accomplish Interesting Things
Retirement can, and ideally should, be a time to aim for new goals and accomplishments, whether that means pursuing a passion or activity you always dreamed about but never got around to doing (writing a book, starting a blog, creating an app, learning to play a musical instrument, whatever) or finding new ways to employ the skills you developed during your career (such as helping those who’ve been less fortunate than you, in which case, you may want to check out options and resources at Encore.org).
The point, though, is that just because you’re retired doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still think big, take chances and even be a bit audacious.
4. Have a Written Comprehensive Retirement Plan
It is hard to enjoy retirement when you don’t actually know if you are going to run out of money.
Planning – creating a really comprehensive retirement plan – can give you peace of mind. And, look, it does not actually matter how much you have saved, it IS possible to feel secure at any asset level. It is just a matter of making choices.
The NewRetirement Planner is an easy-to-use system that helps everyone find their own path to a secure future. The system goes way beyond savings and investments.
You are sure to discover opportunities for feeling good about your finances now and into the future.
Forbes Magazine named the system a “new approach to retirement planning”. It is a powerful comprehensive set of tools to create, monitor and manage a long-term financial plan. Make smarter decisions and do better with your time, taxes, investments, health care and more.
5. Make New Friends
Research shows that retirees who have a solid circle of friends are much more likely to say they’re happy with their lives. Unfortunately, forging new relationships can be more of a challenge after leaving the work-a-day world. But it can be done.
Volunteering at local charitable organizations, taking a part-time job, joining groups that get together to pursue a common interest (dancing, hiking, historical preservation, whatever) and enrolling in classes at a local college are all excellent ways to meet new people and broaden your social network.
6. Reconnect With Friends You Have Known a Long Time
Let’s just not call them “old” friends.
While you’re forging new connections, be sure to maintain relationships with the people with whom you shared formative experiences in earlier stages of your life and who knew you before you became the person you are today.
The real draw is the chance to spend time with people with whom, despite the passage of years, we still share a deep bond.
More than merely a stroll down memory lane, get-togethers with old friends can enhance our perspective on life and serve to remind us of the core of who we are and that what makes life truly meaningful are the relationships we have with friends and family over the course of our lives.
7. Stay (Happily) Married …
Speaking of friends you have had for a long time … Staying connected in your marriage can be an important aspect of enjoying retirement.
Research has found that a happy marriage or long-term relationship is good for you:
- Married people show better health and lower mortality risk than the unmarried.
- The benefits of marriage do depend on the quality of the relationship, with poor quality relationships no better and perhaps worse than no relationship.
- Marital quality is important across the life span but seems to be particularly important in later life as health tends to decline and the effects of adversity accumulate.
- Marital adversity has been found to accelerate the decline in physical and mental health with age and to increase the risk of dying. At the same time, poor health can act as a stressor in the marriage, leading to declines in marital quality.
And, um, since we are talking about relationships, you might be interested to know that older married couples who had more frequent sex — which was defined as any activity with a partner that was sexually arousing — had higher levels of marital happiness than couples who had less sex or were sexually inactive.
8. Seize Opportunities to Shake Things Up
The chance to kick back and relax without having a daily to-do list hanging over one’s head is one of the great benefits of retirement.
But a steady diet of relaxation — or adhering too closely to any daily pattern for that matter — can lead to boredom and a sense of listlessness. This is why it’s important to find ways to break out of the usual routine and spice things up occasionally.
That could involve something as simple as taking a spur-of-the-moment road trip, trying out a new hobby, attending local cultural events, sampling new cuisines, etc.
Or, you could try something a bit more radical to push you out of your comfort zone, what about living abroad for a month, year or forever!
Trying new things is one of the proven strategies to stay young and happy.
9. Focus on What Gives Your Life Meaning
Not to get all philosophical, but a satisfying retirement probably requires a little more than fun and games.
Meaning and purpose are what actually give people the most satisfaction.
10. Take Care of Your Health
Maintaining and improving your health isn’t complicated.
You know the guidelines: get regular checkups, eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly!
Here are few additional hints:
- Soak up the sunlight at least 15 minutes a day. This helps your skin produce vitamin D, an essential vitamin for bone health, mental health, cardiovascular strength, and more.
- Floss! Most adults brush their teeth but fail to floss. However, flossing is critical, not only for healthy teeth but according to researchers at the University of Bergen in Germany, to prevent Alzheimer’s and heart disease.
- Splurge on the Hearing Aid: The research is overwhelming: The ability to hear can have a tremendously positive impact on your life. Hearing aids can help people improve everything from romance, self-confidence, independence, relationships and sense of humor.
- Drink enough water: Drinking adequate water can keep energy levels high and will improve brain function. It also keeps skin healthier.
11. Did We Mention This Already? You Need to Have a Really Good Plan and Backup Plans
Having a detailed plan for your golden years will actually let you enjoy your retirement.
However, one plan is not quite enough. It is unlikely that you can predict exactly what will happen in the future. You also need contingency plans for when things don’t go quite as you expect. The NewRetirement Planner enables you to create different scenarios.
It can be a good idea to create a worst-case scenario plan and assess how you will need to adjust your spending if the economy is underperforming, your health falters, or you encounter some other unexpected occurrence.
NewRetirement’s Planner is designed for anyone who is worried about their retirement — especially people nearing the end of their careers who are in their 50s and 60s. While savings and investments are an important aspect of the tool, what is most important to people nearing or just starting out in retirement is figuring out the best way to make their money last as long as they do.