Studies show that most people put more time into planning how to have a good two week vacation than they spend figuring out how to have 20 years of happiness in retirement. Some people simply stop working when they retire, while others start living the life of their dreams.
It’s important to take as much time to do your happiness planning as you do your financial planning. Because, as Eleanor Roosevelt put it, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” A successful transition into retirement begins by creating a vision of what a satisfying new life will look like.
Envisioning the life you want creates expectations and intentions, which are the best predictors of future success and satisfaction. Otherwise your journey will be like embarking on a trip without a map. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll be wandering aimlessly.
Retirement gives you the opportunity to change your focus from making your boss happy to making yourself happy. You’ve always wanted to be in control of your life, and now’s your chance. Apply the wisdom you’ve acquired to set your own objectives for living well in the future.
Many people have their personal identity tied to their job. In retirement it’s important to know who you are apart from your profession. You will need to learn to define yourself according to who you are, not by what you do. To make that shift, ask yourself what will be most important to you at the end of your life. That will help you identify your deepest values and dreams.
Once you can clearly see the positive outcomes that you’d like to realize, you’ll need to know what unique set of strengths you possess that will enable you achieve your dreams. To recognize your strengths, ask yourself what characteristics you demonstrate when you’re at your best. You can also identify your top traits by going to www.authentichappiness.org to take the VIA Signature Strengths Test.
When you know what personal assets will enable you to be successful, then set some short term goals that motivate you to take those important first steps toward a satisfying retirement. For example, what can you start doing right now to nurture your physical and mental health? Consider taking golf lessons, going for walks, or finding a personal trainer. Look for classes to take to start learning about activities you’d enjoy in retirement such as playing bridge, writing a book, or enjoying musical and artistic endeavors.
You have the power to create a great retirement. Of course you must make good choices now in order to have the solid foundation you’ll need to make the most of your life when your time has been freed from work.
A brisk daily walk of just 20 minutes could give you a healthier life, according to research released just last month. A Cambridge University study of 334,000 people found that even a modest amount of activity prolonged life. In a warning about couch-potato lifestyles, the report revealed that lack of exercise killed twice as many people as obesity. And the least fit got the biggest health benefits. Twenty minutes of exercise a day cut the risk of premature death and disability by almost a third.
Another significant step is to revitalize your current relationships and create some vital new connections. How can you generate at least three times more positive interactions than negative in your family relationships in order to keep them loving? What groups could you join in your community to cultivate new friends who are enjoying their life in retirement?
The highest level of happiness is derived when you have a purpose in life. What are your deepest aspirations for making a meaningful difference in the lives of others? How can you contribute to society and leave a legacy? You can begin to find fulfillment now by engaging in the volunteer activities you’ll enjoy when you’re retired.
Millions of baby boomers are preparing to retire over the next few years. After working work hard throughout their adult life they’re likely to find life boring if they have nothing meaningful to do.
Retirement is more than getting a good return on your financial investments – it’s about getting a good return on life. People who lead an extraordinary retirement life have a healthy lifestyle, marvelous relationships, and authentic passion for making the world a better place. That’s how they’re able to maintain an attitude of gratitude for all that’s good in life.