A happy retirement is about more than just the numbers—a truly fulfilling retirement is about how you live, not what you have. Of course, finances do play a key role in building a foundation on which to build a happy life. As you plan for your retirement, ask yourself this core question: do I have enough assets to fund the retirement lifestyle I’m looking for?
If the answer is yes, then great! If you aren’t sure, the number may be less than you think. According to a Purdue University study, life satisfaction hits its peak at an annual salary of $95,000. How much you need for retirement isn’t a one-size-fits-all number, but if you’re ready to check out from the 9-to-5 grind and feel comfortable with what you’ve saved, you’re ready to move on to the next step: maximizing your retirement experience.
If it’s true that money can’t buy happiness, find out which habits can help boost your satisfaction and create a happy retirement.
Prioritize Your Health
In retirement, health and happiness go hand in hand. You’ve worked so hard to save the money you need—make sure you’re fit enough to enjoy your new financial freedom. According to a Merrill Lynch/Age Wave report, health is the most critical ingredient for a happy retirement. Getting your body moving and making sure you eat well can increase your energy levels and even improve your mood, too.
Not only that, but studies show that a healthy diet and regular exercise can do more than make you feel good in the short term. A healthy lifestyle can also help boost your immune system and reduce your risk of developing certain health conditions.
If you’ve indulged a bit in the early days of your retirement or haven’t always made the healthiest choices—not to worry. It’s never too late to invest time and energy into your health. According to Harvard Medical School research, exercise has powerful benefits even for late starters, and you don’t have to go big. Even a nice walk every day can make a big difference in your physical and mental health. In fact, regular walks are associated with increased creativity and longevity, as well as lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of dementia. Clearly, prioritizing your health can make for a more fulfilling retirement phase.
Forging strong connections with family and friends can give life satisfaction a big boost. A Gallup poll found that three hours of social time per day can help increase enjoyment and happiness and decrease stress and worry.
The opposite is also true—not having enough social time has been linked to a higher risk of stroke, heart disease, dementia, anxiety, and depression. Though it may sound unbelievable, not being social is just as unhealthy as alcoholism, smoking, obesity, and lack of physical activity.
In retirement, people often lose touch with social circles maintained through their professional lives. But there are many ways to stay connected in your later years, either in person through community events or through Zoom or Google hangouts with friends and family.
Focus on Your Purpose
Leisure activities can certainly be enjoyable. When thinking of retirement, who doesn’t anticipate beach walks, catching up on classic literature, or finally getting to spend time on your golf game? However, there’s more to both life and a happy retirement than simply kicking back.
Living with meaning can help bring a sense of purpose to life that fills the hole often left by the close of a career. Volunteering is a top choice for many retirees. In fact, retirees were three times more likely to say that “helping people in need” brought happiness in retirement vs. “spending money on themselves,” according to the same Merrill Lynch/Age Wave study cited above.
Lean Into Learning
Staying sharp as you age has significant benefits. Cognitive decline can be a real fear as people grow older, but experts believe that continuing to learn can stave off some of the scarier possibilities. Here are a few benefits of lifelong learning:
- Reduce the risk of memory loss: Research shows that learning new things during your lifetime can help keep Alzheimer’s disease at bay.
- Cognitive improvement: When you learn, your brain responds by forming new neural connections and building new neurons. This can positively impact thought processes, memory, attention, and reasoning skills.
- Improved self-esteem: This may seem like a soft benefit but learning a new skill can make you feel more confident and prouder of yourself. Investing in your emotional well-being is always a smart choice.
So, as you consider how to enjoy a happy retirement, include learning in your plans.
Keep the Glass Half Full
Attitude really is everything. Research has found that increased optimism can actually help people live longer. Optimistic women have a 50% greater chance of making it to age 85, and optimistic men have a 70% greater chance.
If pessimism is a hard habit for you to break, that’s ok. You can start adopting a more optimistic mindset today by taking small steps to reframe your experiences in a more positive light. Optimism can be contagious – as well as an important ingredient for a fulfilling retirement.
Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude
When was the last time you counted your blessings? In addition to shifting your mind to a more optimistic point of view, being grateful for all you have can give your physical and mental health a lift. Psychologists believe that grateful people in turn exercise more, get sick less frequently, and are more likely to be kind to others.
Care for Four-legged Friends
Turns out a dog really is a person’s best friend. Dogs can boost your physical health—just one walk a day can help you to be less sedentary and potentially live longer. The benefits go beyond the physical, too, to significant mental health benefits—dogs are well known for their ability to provide emotional support and comfort.
If a dog isn’t your preference, there are more low-maintenance options. Cats, birds, or even hamsters can be beneficial companions. If a full-time pet isn’t a good fit for your happy retirement lifestyle, consider becoming a temporary foster parent to a furry friend in need. Animal shelters are nearly always looking for more foster volunteers.
As You Plan for a Happy Retirement, Remember What Matters
It’s your retirement—and you’ve worked hard for it. Making smart financial decisions throughout the years likely got you to this point. So, in addition to fostering healthy habits that promote happiness, make sure you keep up the good financial work so you can enjoy your life long into the future. Together, these ingredients can lead you to the fulfilling retirement you’ve dreamed of.
If you’d like professional assistance in the financial aspects of retirement planning, we can help! At Resolute, we strive to be your trusted advisor and help you fulfill your retirement goals. We can help you construct a wealth management plan that meets your unique needs, so reach out today to schedule your initial conversation. We look forward to hearing from you!