When you envision your retirement, what does it look like? Will you relax at home, spending more time with your grandchildren and working in your garden? Or will you travel the globe? Or will you finally work in a career that passionately interests you, rather than the one you chose because of the salary and benefits? No matter which is your vision, how you retire can have a big impact on your health, along with your enjoyment of retirement. Here’s how you can get more out of your retirement.
First, a disclaimer: There is conflicting information about whether health tends to decline or improve after retirement. Sometimes people retire for health reasons and this makes it more difficult to determine if retirement has a positive or negative affect on health.
If health concerns don’t factor into your retirement decision, though, there is “strong evidence that retirement improves both health and life satisfaction.” And increasing numbers of retirees are choosing to spend part of their retirement years . . . working. If you’re considering that, know there are definite benefits to continue to work. They include one we discussed in a previous blog post: It gives you a “chance to try something new and even pursue career dreams.” Other benefits include keeping you:
- Mentally active
- Physically active
- Socially engaged
If, however, you have a solid social network outside of the workplace—and you really look forward to gardening, exercising, traveling, reading or spending more time with friends and family, as just a few examples—the right choice for you might well be to completely exit the workplace when you retire. Or, to toss another option in the mix, “fully” retiring before un-retiring a couple of years later!
To get the most out of your retirement, picture what it will look like on a daily basis. What will your social network be like? Your lifestyle? Your sense of purpose? Will volunteer work fulfill those aspects of life? If not, what will?
No matter what you envision, NextAvenue.org lists eight ways to move forward when you retire. These include doing what excites you—whether that’s a gratifying part-time job, writing your memoirs or learning how to swim if you haven’t yet mastered the activity—and setting new goals. Perhaps that means writing a certain number of words per week in your memoirs or practicing a new swimming stroke three times a week. The specifics are as individual as you are.
Another tip: Let go of what drags you down. That might be your job or a friendship that truly drains you. Say “no” to whatever no longer makes sense in your life. See new sights, whether that means traveling to another country or stopping at that intriguing little shop you’ve driven by countless times, but never visited.
And here’s one more: Savor alone time. Meditate, go for a walk or otherwise filter out distractions regularly. “Taking time to ‘center’ will help make sense of the chatter around you, allowing you to grab the greatest benefits out of life.”