When people prepare for retirement, they often think about saving money. But financial security or even finding a good retirement community is just part of enjoying the ‘golden years.’ There are many, many retirees who become depressed or discontent, not because they don’t have enough cash, but they no longer have a sense of purpose.
Retirement is a big life change. How do you feel fulfilled when you no longer have a job or a family that ‘needs’ you? How do you deal with the realities of old age that you may not be as mobile or as healthy as you hoped you would be? Here are some life on the secrets to a happy retirement.
Happy Retirement Secret # 1: Expand your relationship with your kids
For years you were a ‘parent’ who raised, guided, and disciplined. But your kids are now adults, and they don’t need you to clean up after them or nag them to do the right thing. It’s time to change your parent-child dynamics. Instead of telling them what to do, listen to their stories, share in their victories, comfort them when they make those inevitable mistakes, and bite your tongue when they decide to do things differently. Then you avoid alienating them and pushing them away—and yet, through your quiet support, you will always be part of their lives.
Happy Retirement Secret # 2: Volunteer
You no longer have to go to a 9 to 5 job but you can still have meaningful work. For example, if you’re great at organizing activities, then get involved in church fundraisers. Or share your knowledge by teaching at the community college. There are also many organizations that will welcome your help, in any form: food shelters, support groups or hotlines for troubled teens, orphanages, zoos. Use this time to inspire, teach, and make a difference in other people’s lives.
Happy Retirement Secret # 3: learn something new every month
You’re never too old to learn something new! Sign up for a painting class, learn a new language to prepare for a trip to an exotic country, or take an e-course or buy a book on a topic that’s always interested you. Trying different things will inject variety into your schedule, breaking the monotony of the days. It will also keep your mind alert and even give you a chance to meet different people.
Happy Retirement Secret # 4: Reconnect with old friends
Facebook and other social networking sites aren’t just for the young! Use it to hunt for old friends. Or, call your alumni office to find out where your old high school buddies are, or even google them–even the process of hunting them down will be interesting.
Happy Retirement Secret # 5: Don’t dwell on the past
Shake off the regrets and the frustration of ‘not being able to do the things I used to do.’ Yes, you’ve made mistakes, and your body isn’t what it used to be. But you have gained wisdom, and now you have gained the gift of free time. Look forward to what you can do today, and decide to take what you do have and to live it fully. Grandma Moses took up painting because her arthritis prevented her from doing the crafts she used to love—and look what happened!
Photo from newthoughtgeneration.com