5 Ways to Live Your Best Life in Retirement

May 10, 2017

Looking forward to a good lifeEveryone looks forward to retirement, but not everyone is prepared for it. Here’s what it takes to really be happy once it finally comes.

 

If polls have any truth to them, you can look forward to feeling happier once you reach retirement age.

The folks at Gallup-Healthways study happiness full time, and every year they produce what’s called a “Well-Being Index.” The data from 2016 shows that older Americans aren’t just happier than the rest of the population, they also report significantly higher rates of overall well-being.

Not quite sure you’re convinced? 

In celebration of Older Americans Month, and to highlight this year’s theme of “Age Out Loud”, here are five ways to help move the dial in the right direction and live your best life in retirement.

1. Stay Physically Active

Well-being, according to Gallup-Healthways, has many ingredients, which fall into these five categories:

  1. Purpose
  2. Social
  3. Financial
  4. Community
  5. Physical

The component which presented the biggest obstacle to well-being, according to the research, was the Physical category. It’s vital that you do everything you can to maintain good health. One way to stay healthy is to stay active.

2. Find Purpose

Worrying about whether you’ll be happy during retirement is a relatively new concern, historically speaking. Up until the late 1800s – and much later in some parts of the world – the idea simply didn’t exist. If you were alive, there was work to be done, which usually meant working the family farm.

But now, thanks to longer life expectancy and dramatic changes in technology, retirement is the start of a whole new chapter in life. Whether it’s traveling or sipping cocktails in the back yard, there’s no end to leisure activities you now have time to enjoy.

But those aging farm workers of the 1800s had something valuable that many retiring Boomers may not feel: a sense of purpose. They were needed, and feeling needed is a major part of your sense of well-being.

Finding a purpose can mean so many different things to different people so there’s some self-reflection involved here. Maybe you want to volunteer, or maybe you will play a big role in raising your grandchildren. Whatever form it takes, be sure to be proactive early on in your retirement and find purpose.

3. Seek Fulfillment in the Community

Rather than viewing life after retirement as a winding-down phase, like their predecessors did, Boomers seem to be seeking an elevated experience. Like ‘purpose’, fulfillment can take many forms. One that’s generally agreed upon as being helpful for well-being is seeking fulfillment within a community.

Once you retire you may have to work at seeking out new communities. You won’t have that sense of belonging that you may have felt at work, so finding new groups to belong to is crucial to happiness in retirement. Whether it’s hobbies that involve other people or joining a gym, find what you enjoy and use it to develop a sense of community in your life. Even if you plan on retiring in a rural area, there are communities to seek out in the form of all kinds of clubs and social organizations you can be a part of.

4. Pay Attention to Finances

They say money can’t buy happiness, but a predictable income will make all the difference in your feelings of contentment and peace of mind during retirement. A consequence of living longer is that we all have a much longer retirement to fund.

Sometimes the problem is we don’t even know how much we’ll need. In fact, 81 percent of Americans report they have no clue how much they’ll need! If you’re among this group, or if you know you haven’t saved enough, either start tightening your belt or talk to a financial advisor who can help ensure you are on track for a comfortable retirement.

5. Be Open to New Things

Finally, if there’s one piece of advice for retiring Boomers, it’s to keep an open mind about everything. For the generation that elevated the art of self-awareness and being open to change, it shouldn’t be all that difficult!

Being open to change is good for your brain cells – and may even ward off dementia. But beyond that, it can help you adopt new ways of doing things that increase your happiness in each one of the five categories of well-being, mentioned earlier.

At Legacy Senior Living, we support ‘Aging Out Loud’ and helping people live their best years during retirement. Stop by a visit to learn more!