Secrets to a Happy Retirement

I was semi-retired about two years ago and now I have fully retired. It was a great day and the beginning of a very happy, fulfilling and incredibly busy time of life!

Retirement, as I had imagined it, was supposed to be all about slowing down, taking it easy, and finally having the time to pursue some low-key hobbies. But I was wrong! I find myself busier than ever before, and honestly, I couldn’t be happier about it.

The Crucial First Step – Letting Go

Retirees often face the challenge of letting go of the emotional bonds they’ve formed with their careers over the years. For many individuals, their job or business has been more than just a source of income – it’s been a central aspect of their identity and purpose. Breaking free from these emotional ties can be a significant adjustment, requiring retirees to navigate a complex mix of feelings and experiences as they transition into retirement.

Retirees may also find it challenging to break free from the habits and routines they developed during their working years. From waking up early out of habit to checking work emails or feeling guilty about taking leisure time during traditional work hours. The ingrained patterns of behaviour can be hard to shake off.

It’s essential for retirees to recognise these challenges and actively work towards breaking free from the constraints of their past careers to fully embrace the opportunities and joys of retirement.

Retirement Is Not About Slowing Down

Slowing down in retirement is a misconception. The truth is that retirees may have different aspirations than during their working years, but their ambition and focus remain. Retirement provides an opportunity to explore new interests, pursue long-standing passions, and engage in personal growth and development. It’s a time to redefine priorities and focus on what truly matters to you.

Retirees have a variety of aspirations and objectives depending on their personal circumstances and desires.

Maintaining Good Physical & Mental Health

Maintaining good physical and mental health is a top priority for me. After all, enjoying retirement to the fullest requires being healthy enough to engage in the activities that make retirement fulfilling. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer about 5 years ago for which I am ever grateful – I was lucky enough to get this kick in the stomach from the universe to remind me that without good health, you cannot travel, pursue hobbies, spend time with loved ones, or simply enjoy my leisure time. So, I changed my diet and lifestyle dramatically and I also schedule 8 weeks a year to go on an ayurvedic health retreat, which always seems to absolve me of my sins of overindulgence during the rest of the year.

Physical health is particularly important. As we age, we face a greater risk of chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. We may also face challenges with mobility and balance, which can limit our ability to participate in physical activities. To maintain good physical health, I prioritise exercise, healthy eating, and regular medical check-ups far more than I did as a younger man.

Regular medical check-ups can help identify and treat health issues early on, which can lead to better health outcomes – unfortunately I learnt this the hard way but now I no longer begrudge the time and inconvenience it takes for check-ups.

Mental Health is Critical

Retirement can bring significant life changes. For me, this included a certain loss of identity, social connections, and daily routine. These changes led to feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety. So now, to maintain mental health, I prioritise social connections, and seek support when I need to. Social connections have started providing me with a sense of purpose, belonging, and support. My family doesn’t recognise me – they say that I used to be a silent observer at social occasions but now I make an effort to get out of my comfort zone to engage and interact with new people.

Retirement offers the perfect opportunity to embrace mindfulness and live in the present moment. Whether it’s through meditation, yoga, or simply taking time to savour the small pleasures in life, cultivating mindfulness can bring a sense of peace, calm, and inner contentment in retirement.

Achieving Financial Security

Financial security is a high priority for me and for many retirees, and understandably so. After working for many years and saving diligently for retirement, we want to be able to enjoy many years without worrying about money. Retirees want to ensure that they have enough funds to cover their daily living expenses, including housing, food, healthcare, transportation, the travel bucket list and other essential costs.

Many of us also want to provide financial assistance to our children and grandchildren and make charitable donations to causes we care about. In order to achieve a level of financial security, I have had to more carefully manage finances and become better informed about investments and spending.

My investment knowledge and financial planning insights have started to exceed that of my kids and younger generations – dare I say, I sometimes find I understand some types of investment better than the working professionals advising me. This is because it is a make-or-break situation – there will be no second chances and so my financial decision making has to be razor sharp.

Pursuing Interests and Hobbies

After years of working and juggling multiple responsibilities, on retirement I was looking forward to having more time to pursue my hobbies and interests. I only had a short list of hobbies – writing, gardening and learning to play the harmonium, but many retirees have a long list of activities they want to explore, from learning a new language to taking up a new sport, to pursuing creative endeavours like painting, writing, or music.

You may have put your hobbies and interests on hold while working and raising a family. Now, you have the time and freedom to explore these passions and interests more fully. Pursuing hobbies and interests can be a source of joy, fulfillment, and even personal growth in retirement and remember it is now or never, you no longer have the excuse that you are too busy with work.

Travel & Embracing Adventure

I have been lucky enough to have lived and worked in seven different countries and travelled to some 40 countries during my working life, but travelling for work is little more than changing hotel rooms. I still have a bucket list of destinations where I want to spend quality time and just enjoy the country and people without worrying about landing a deal or delivering a project.

Travelling in retirement provides a sense of adventure, excitement, and personal growth. An advantage of travelling during retirement is that you can take your time and travel at a more leisurely pace, without the pressure of a tight schedule or work obligations. Travel is also an opportunity to connect with loved ones, either by travelling together or visiting family and friends in different parts of the world. A funny thing about my travel bucket list – as I see more places, the more I want to see and so the bucket is filling up some more and it is not getting any emptier!

If travel is not your thing, retirement can still be a time to embrace other adventures and seek out new experiences. Whether it’s trying out adrenaline-pumping activities like skydiving or bungee jumping, or simply exploring new hobbies and interests, retirement offers endless opportunities for adventure and excitement. One retired friend decided to become a stand-up comedian and another friend who sadly is no longer with us, had always wanted a dairy farm and so he started one and had the immense pleasure of running it for several years.

Spending Time with Family & Friends

There’s nothing quite like the joy of spending quality time with loved ones, and retirement has given me the opportunity to do just that. Whether it’s hosting family gatherings, going on vacations with my grandchildren, or simply catching up with friends over a cup of coffee, these moments are precious to me. And as I grow older, I cherish these connections even more, realizing that they are the true treasures of life.

You can get into a routine for weekly catchups – I have a group of friends to  meet for Monday nightdinners and I look forward to them not really for the cuisine but more for the company and sharing. And (dare I say) sometimes whingeing, laughter and reminiscing.

For those of us with partners, retirement is a fantastic time to reconnect at a much deeper level with your partner. We have all heard stories of husbands and wives spending too much ‘togetherness’ time in retirement, but I fancy this is just a bit of bravado. The truth is closer to my experience of finding a whole new, renewed and exciting person I had lived with for many decades, but only connected with on weekends because ofwork – what a waste – but I am excited for the future time we have together with my soul mate.

Giving Back to the Community

Retirement provides the perfect opportunity to give back to the community and make a positive impact on the lives of others. Whether it’s volunteering at a local charity, mentoring young people, or participating in community clean-up efforts, contributing to the well-being of others can bring a sense of purpose and fulfillment in retirement. I teach in a community school on Friday nights and I am exploring becoming part of a pro bono team of former business consultants who can complete projects for charities which they could not otherwise afford. Open your hearts and your minds to volunteering – the opportunities to give back and volunteer are all around us. You will find the experience fulfilling, mentally  stimulating, a source of new friendships and an all round great positive feeling of having a purpose.

Simplifying Life

Downsizing and simplifying my life has been a liberating experience in retirement. By decluttering my home and letting go of unnecessary possessions, I’ve created space for what truly matters to me – okay I admit it is a work in progress! I’ve also found that simplifying my schedule and commitments has allowed me to focus on the things that bring me joy and fulfillment, whether it’s pursuing hobbies, spending time with loved ones, or simply enjoying moments of solitude.

The Great Unanswered Questions of Life

Retirement has given me the space and time to reflect on life’s big questions and seek out answers that bring me peace and understanding. Whether it’s through meditation, prayer, or philosophical inquiry, I’m on a journey of spiritual exploration and discovery. And while I may not have all the answers, I find solace in the search itself, knowing that each step brings me closer to a deeper understanding of myself, the world around me and my creator.

Planning Your Legacy

Legacy planning is about more than just financial matters; it’s about leaving behind a lasting impact that reflects our values, passions, and beliefs. Whether it’s creating a family trust, establishing a scholarship fund, or simply passing down family stories and traditions, legacy planning allows us to shape the future and ensure that our values live on for generations to come. It’s a deeply meaningful process that adds another layer of significance to retirement, reminding us that our lives have purpose and meaning beyond our years.

Cultivating Gratitude

Retirement is a time to cultivate gratitude and appreciation for the blessings in our lives. Whether it’s through daily gratitude practices, keeping a gratitude journal, or simply taking time to reflect on the abundance around us, fostering a sense of gratitude can bring immense joy and contentment in retirement.

I think you will agree retirement is not a time for sitting back and relaxing and I am always amused by my younger friends who believe I must be terribly bored and mentally withering away because I’m not working!

Navin Pasricha
Former Chief Editor (Retired of course!)

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