Tips for a Satisfying Retirement

When the hustle and bustle of the workaday world is your constant reality, the notion that anyone might not enjoy retirement can seem insane. The truth is that retirement marks a major developmental and financial transition. It’s not always easy, and some people even experience depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem when they retire. Most go through a process of transition that takes several months.

A meaningful and happy retirement is by no means a given. But with a little planning and a willingness to continually tweak your strategy, you can thrive, grow, and relax when you leave the workforce.

Get Your Finances Under Control

Money may not be the key to happiness, but it sure helps. Even if you plan to lead a frugal existence in retirement, knowing exactly how much you have and how much you can spend will take the pressure off. Your home mortgage can be a significant source of income loss in retirement, so consider paying off your house before taking the plunge. If you’re over 62 and strapped for cash, your home can serve as a source of money in the form of a reverse mortgage. You don’t have to repay the loan as long as you remain in your home and follow the terms laid out in the loan contract.

Work on Your Relationships

Retirement means spending a lot more time with the people you love most. That can be a great thing, but it can also draw out conflicts that once simmered beneath the surface. Particularly if you’re married, focus on strengthening your relationship. Small disagreements and petty annoyances can escalate out of control when you spend more time together. Spending some time apart each day and finding new ways to express love and appreciation can help you weather the transitional storms of retirement.

satisfying retirement

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Decide How You Want to Spend Your Time

Have you ever taken a leave from work with big plans for how to spend your time, only to find that you waste it in front of the television? Without a plan, it’s easy to feel listless and depressed. Happy retirements are productive retirements, so think about how you want to spend your time. Will you plant a garden? Develop a new skill? Offer part-time consulting services? Spending the rest of your life relaxing probably won’t be enough, so plan accordingly.

Prepare for a Rocky Transition

You’ve spent most of your life working, so don’t be surprised if retirement isn’t as exciting as you planned. You’ll need time to transition, and you may even find yourself plagued by feelings of depression and anxiety during that transition. Knowing what to expect can help you be kind to yourself when retirement isn’t as easy as you planned. Any emotional turmoil you experience is likely temporary, but if you can’t seem to adjust, consider the role a psychotherapist can play in a happy retirement.

Find a New Source of Identity

How do you answer questions about who you are or what you do? Does your answer involve your job? When you quit working, you’ll no longer have that identity to lean on. Find a new identity—whether it’s grandparent, hobbyist writer, birdwatcher, spouse, cook, or a combination of multiple roles. You don’t have to get paid to derive an identity from something. A daily sense of purpose and identity may be what marks the difference between happy and unhappy retirees.


Arnel Ariate is the webmaster of Money Soldiers.

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