How To Be Happy In Retirement
Does the title of this post, “How to be happy in retirement“, seem a waste of time to you? When I first retired I thought retirement and happy went together like wine and cheese! Doesn’t being free from work and responsibilities, with time to do and be whatever you want make a happy retirement life a given? Apparently not! So, what’s going on?
How To Enjoy Life After Retirement
The “experts” warn us that depression, anxiety, social isolation are increasingly being identified in retirees. So, what’s going on and what can we do to avoid missing out on a happy retirement life?
Retirement like any other stage in life involves a change in roles. Now, being able to plan my day my way I have no trouble with. Being constantly told how lucky I am not having to do anything makes my jaw hurt!
For married couples retirement comes as a shock when they realise they have completely different ideas of what their life will be like in retirement! If compromises are not made then the result at best, is simmering, unresolved conflict.
After 5 years I think I have served my retirement apprenticeship and now feel confident enough to share how I have reached my goal of having a happy retirement life
When I first retired I thought retirement and happy went together like wine and cheese!
My Cheap & Cheerful Guide To A Happy Retirement Life
Do not compare!
I find the biggest difference between my previous life and now is that my circle of friends is much wider. I live on a Marina and my neighbors are a doctors, plumbers, teacher, policewomen and an ex CEO of a bank! We share a love of the water and in shorts and T shirt we look the same. A Marina does not have the same separation as housing post codes so some boats are sleeker and bigger than others. It takes a bit of getting used to but the penny soon drops that you all have something to share. Possessions are no substitute for friends and good health. You have just taken the first step towards settling into a happy retirement life.
Practice Being Social!
There are many strings to this bow and it may not come easy for some of you. In my pre-retirement life (PRL) greetings were quick as my colleagues and I disappeared into classrooms. I learned to slow down when I saw that when my new neighbors asked “How are you”? they waited for the answer! For some this may a continuation of their PRL, for others (myself included) it took time and practice. Who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?! For solo retirees practicing your social skills may prove to be a first step towards dating in retirement.
When you retire I believe te biggest mountain to climb is coming to terms with who you are. It’s no secret that in our capitalist society the most common conversation starter with strangers is, “What do you do? Since “Retired” been a sensible answer? So, we qualify it with, “I used to b…!” Well, guess what, the skills I had PRL are still there. It makes sense to find a way to share those skills. My library runs conversational English classes, sewing, computing, art and story telling for littlies. Everyone of the “tutors.” are volunteers and all over 60 years old! Volunteering can also take you out of your comfort zone. I have a friend who has just come back from volunteering to look after monkeys in South America! Volunteering is the perfect way to use the skills you took a lifetime to get and renew your sense of purpose.
Prioritize Your Health
For those of you who have always focused on a healthy lifestyle you can skip this one as your retirement will not change the habits of a life time! The rest of you…….read on! It’s time to evaluate where you are on the “healthy” scale. It’s hard to feel happy in retirement if you find yourself struggling to life your own weight out of a chair. That doesn’t mean you have to outlay the $$$$$ on a gym membership. In my area there are more free fitness activities than I can fit into my week. ( the powers that be know that it’s a lot cheaper to keep us fit than pay for a hospital bed) It is possible to achieve fitness on a budget if you think outside the box (or gym)
Eating healthy in retirement is just as important has staying fit in retirement. My idea of healthy eating is really very simple. Buy fresh and make your own! Or, even better, grow your own and make your own! Food in glass bottles has never made much sense to me. If I want Vitamin C I eat an orange. If the kitchen is uncharted territory look at it as an opportunity to learn a new skill. My post on home cooking is a good place to start .
Drop The Baggage
Guilt, pride, hurt, anger. What ever you are carrying, retirement is the time to drop it! Don’t sit around waiting for retirement to “make you happy” If you do you will be disappointed. Retirement is no different to any other stage in life. You didn’t gain your skills or education by waiting did you? No, you worked for it and a happy retirement is no different. Carrying negative baggage from your Pre-Retirement Life will take up time that should be spent on working towards being happy in retirement. Acceptance is part of letting go of your Pre-Retirement Life. Only then can you look forward to a retirement that is different to your PRL but no less fulfilling. Gradually you will achieve your goal of a happy retirement.
Honesty is the Best Policy
Retirement is a time of change. For those of us who are in the process of change we have to understand that our family and friends will not know what we are going through if we don’t tell them! Your life will be different to the one you had before and you will change along with it. It may be as simple as wanting to try something you’ve never done before so, put it out there. “Hey kids, no more socks and bath salts! I want to try surfing” (Worked for me!) Previously, you may have picked up the lunch tab but if your budget is tight be honest about it. There are other ways of showing your love without opening your wallet. My youngest grand daughter loves the books I bring from the library. Even at 2 years she understands that they are not hers to keep so the library bag becomes a continuing surprise!
Procrastination v Busy Busy
You don’t have to be either of these but it is possible that you will experience both! I know I did. While we were renovating our home/boat it was busy from daylight to dusk. Eventually, money dictated we slow down and I was left with “empty” time. So, I filled it up. Unfortunately, filling up time is not necessarily constructive or fulfilling. Eventually I found balance by making a list of achievable tasks for my “P” days and letting go of the rules I inflicted on myself of “must do’s” For example, I now go kayaking when I want to rather than everyday at 6 am!
Take A Holiday
The common held belief is that everyday is a holiday when you retire! But this is just another retirement myth held by those coping with the 9-5 grind. In our pre-retirement life we enjoyed counting down the days until we went on holiday be it an extended break or a long week end. That does not change. Being happy in retirement does not mean we take the same sort of holidays but as my mother always said, “A change is as good as a holiday!” (Her holidays was moving from the East End of London to the hop fields of Essex)!) My go to holiday plan is house sitting! I have locals who call on me regularly but I also plan house sits further away. I am gradually working my way around Australia and make new friends at the same time. This year I will be heading up North on a free train and the anticipation builds with each visit to my house sit web site. It’s worth a look https://www.aussiehousesitters.com.au/
When you mention retirement and hobbies in the same sentence it may seem I am advocating a “time filler” . Personally I loved knitting (in the days when my children would wear hand knitted garments) in front of a silly TV programme because I could justify it by the length of the sleeve I was working on! If you have never been a “hobby” person think again. Some hobbies also have a monetary value which, as your time is your own means your profit margins only have to account for materials. Perhaps the most rewarding hobby for many is gardening. The fruits of your labor are many and varied. If you don’t like the idea of exchanging your flowers and vegetables for money think about bartering.
Stay In Touch
When I first retired I soaked up freedom of days without schedules, meetings and “due dates”. As an introvert it comes naturally but that doesn’t mean it was good for me. If you take a look at autobiography of a baby boomer and My Retirement Plan A you will see that I have lived in the UK, New Zealand and Australia for long periods of time. Staying in touch with my family has certainly been made easier with technology. Retirement though has allowed me to stay in touch with my extended family and it gives me access to so much more. Currently my nephew is driving around Australia as a Grey Nomad. Skype, Facebook and Instagram have been added to my techy list! Being time rich also allows us to find the best deals when it comes to mobile plan. My current plan allows me over $400 worth of free phone calls to NZ!