IT’S ALMOST TIME. YOU’RE IN YOUR 50S OR 60S. YOU’VE WORKED YOUR WHOLE LIFE, YOU’VE SAVED, AND PERHAPS YOU’VE GOTTEN SOME KIDS THROUGH COLLEGE AND INTO ADULTHOOD.
Perhaps you’re married and your spouse is close to retirement as well, or you’re divorced, or you’re single. No matter your situation, retirement is closer on the horizon. You may feel ready to take the plunge. New Year, New You right? Or you may feel anxiety about what life on the other side of working will look like. Who will you be? What will you do? How will you spend your days without the routine of a daily work schedule?
In this article, we will discuss some ways to rewire the way you think about yourself and your retirement to help to adapt to the transition. Retirement has the potential to be a rewarding and exciting time. A time of great transition where you can travel, learn new skills, explore interests that you never had time to before. Retirement can be more than the end of working, it can be the start of something wonderful. It can be a path of your own design. Studies show the more we think about what we want to do in retirement, the better off we are. As we approach a new year let’s use one of those resolutions to spend a little time and mindfulness on 3 ways we can prepare for retirement whether it’s right around the corner or in the next few years.
Changing Your Routine
Retiring from a regular 9-5 career will obviously change how you spend your days. Before retirement, you were probably up in the morning, off to work, home for dinner, social on weekends, and with the occasional household chores and appointments mixed in. When work does not dictate how you schedule your day, what will? The more time you spend on this before retirement, the better prepared and less likely you’ll be to fall into a slump after. Try this exercise: Is there something you have always wanted to spend more time on (no matter what: from golf to watercolor, to writing a novel, learning French, travel etc.)? Maybe it’s actually investing in a new business venture or working part-time in a different field. Now, if you could map out your perfect daily routine, how would it look? Would you sleep in? Stay up late? Would you move away? As far as your household, does someone tend to do more domestic chores? If so, good to start discussing how the ‘chore-wheel’ will change once retired family members are able to take on a bigger role in household necessities.
Seeing the ability to wipe the slate clean and start a fresh schedule, one not dictated by external workforces, but by you, and how you want to spend your day may take a little while to get used to, but it will be worth it.[i] Think back to when you were a kid on summer vacation when the whole summer opened up and you could just do… whatever you wanted. Take that feeling of endless possibility and apply it now, in a realistic way, to your retirement. It may change how you feel about it. You may even feel excited!
The Mind-Body Connection
Once retired, you will also have more control over what you eat when you sleep and when you exercise. Making retirement a time to start fresh and eat better, move more, and take better care of yourself is a great place to start. Retirement, while exciting, can also be stressful and even cause depression.[ii] All big transitions come with their share of sweet and sour. If you had an active job and were on your feet a lot, you may want to incorporate more exercise or activity once retired. If you were the type to stress and eat on the go at work, now you can spend more time eating healthfully. Retirement opens up so many options for how to spend your time and making sure much of it is spent feeling good and healthy is a great goal. Like the old adage ‘use it or lose it’, taking your health seriously, both mental and physical, is a wonderful way to approach retirement. Think of it as a time to spend on yourself after a lifetime of caring and working for others. Exercise need not only be going to a gym, activities like brisk walks, gardening, and even rigorous housework all check off the boxes too. Meal plans and cooking classes may be a fun way to change how you eat and think about food. The objective is to have as many happy years of good health as possible. Approaching that from a positive place can only help you hit those goals.
Friends and Family
People with good friends and marriages live healthier, longer lives.[iii] Humans are social creatures after all. Loneliness, as we age, can really affect us, both mentally and physically.[iv] So making the effort to reach out, practice gratitude, rekindle relationships and strengthen those that exist is a big positive. Retirement changes the shape of marriages and so checking with partners, opening doors of communication and discussing hopes and fears for retirement can really help get everyone on the same page. Establishing healthy expectations for children and grandchildren and making time for friends is so very important. Social clubs, social media, and volunteer organizations are great ways to make new friends with shared interests. Retirement does not have to be time spent, alone, but instead a wonderful opportunity to really have the closeness and the quality time that we are often too busy to have in our working lives.
So as the champagne pops and the resolutions abound, spend a little time thinking ahead. Think about what you want to do and who you want to be when you are retired. You’ve worked so hard to reach this moment and it is amazing how much more enjoyable retirement can be with just a little forethought. Allow yourself a moment of excitement, you’re almost to the finish line and at the end is…whatever you want!