The biggest mistake anyone can make when planning for retirement is to concentrate solely on the financials. Ernie J. Zelinski, author of How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free, claims “Many people spend forty years building an impressive retirement nest egg, but no time at all thinking about how they are going to enjoy retirement.”
With the freedom to do whatever you want to do, whenever you want to do it, enjoying a long-lasting retirement doesn’t seem that hard to achieve. However, regardless of how you envisioned retirement, for many of us, it turns out to be completely different from what we expected. For some, it’s everything we hoped for and more, while for others a lack of commitments and goals proves to be a disappointment. Once the initial excitement has worn off, many are left wondering what to do with all their spare time.
If you’ve accumulated wealth for retirement, but haven’t considered how you’ll enjoy your golden years, here are four tips for a happy retirement.
Determine What you will do in Retirement
Financials aside, how will you spend your days? What is it that will make you feel fulfilled and happy? The answers to these questions can be very personal and are different for every individual.
However, it’s important to start seriously thinking about these decisions early as the key to a happy retirement is figuring out what will continue to give your life meaning without work and family commitments. You may wish to take up golf, write a book or volunteer for an important cause. Whatever it is, start forming those dreams now so that you can take steps to bring your vision to life.
Figure Out Where you Will Live.
One of the most important decisions you need to consider is where you’ll retire. Do you want to live overseas or remain in your memory-filled family home? For many the answer ties into how much travel you want to do, as well as how close to family and friends you want to be.
A recent Travel Market Report, says over three million of America’s Baby Boomers plan to live out their golden years abroad. Retiring abroad opens up new opportunities and experiences (like volunteering), while providing access to a more affordable and better quality of life. In fact a survey of almost 400 expats by the Best Places in the World to Retire found that 81% of retirees were happier in their new country.
Put Everything on the Table with your Partner
As you start to think about the details of how you envision life in retirement, don’t forget to talk about your goals and dreams with your partner. Of course, it’s important to discuss the financial matters, but nothing beats those exciting conversation about how your golden years will look together.
By being frank about what you envision, you can reduce potential areas of disagreement or disappointment later down the line. Try writing down your goals and sharing them with each other, or even treat one another to a dream retirement date.
Retire on your Own Accord
If you have the financial freedom, take control of when you’ll retire and follow through on your decision. There are dozens of books written about the ideal time to retire, but it’s about figuring out what’s right for you. According to a survey by The Retirement Maze, those who chose to retire freely rather than have it thrown upon them were more happy in retirement.
Likewise, don’t try to keep up with the Joneses. Not everyone can afford to live large, and some don’t want to. Trying to match your friends and neighbors with vacations, hobbies and home improvements can put unnecessary pressure on retirees and derail financial plans.
There’s More to Retirement Than Wealth and Good Health
A sound financial retirement plan is essential for a long and healthy retirement. But, don’t be fooled into believing the bigger your bank balance, the better your retired life will be. Achieving fulfillment in retirement involves following your dreams. Not someone else’s. Simple things like keeping active and staying social, as well as thinking hard about exactly when, where and how you’ll retire are the key.