Retire to Happiness: Tips to Thrive in the Next Chapter of Life
Here’s a thought, retirement doesn't’t mean the end- it doesn't mean an end of self-importance or purpose, it just means a new chapter—a paradigm shift of what life is beyond long days, and meetings, and bosses. Unless you own your own business, and even then, YOU are not your business; you’re not solely defined by the question, “What do you do?”; and you shouldn’t stop defining the answer for such an inquiry in your retirement era.
A quarter of retirees actually think life in retirement is worse than it was before they retired - don’t be one of those people. Let your golden years shine when you set out a vision of what you want life in retirement to be.
Because you won’t be working full-time in retirement, you won’t necessarily have a steady paycheque to count on for income. The state of your finances play a critical part in the decision of when to retire; in fact, in a study conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health reported that 51% of people who say they will never fully enter into retirement, say so because they are inhibited due to finances.
Having a healthy portfolio and steady finances are some things you’ll want to have set-up well in advance of your retirement to maintain and grow throughout the rest of your life. However, it’s never too late to set your finances straight by re-evaluating your portfolio, investment strategy, and monthly budget. Set up a strategy session with us and then maintain regular correspondence, so there are no financial surprises that could negatively impact your life in retirement. Focus on figuring how much you can realistically spend out of monthly income given Canadian Pension Plan, possible workplace pension, RRSP’s, and other accounts. Let us help you determine which accounts to dip into first to avoid tax penalties from drawing from too many sources.
Frankly, retirement at age 65 is a bit antiquated. It was an idea that was generated in the mid 1930’s, and worked for the Canadian worker at a time because people didn’t live as long; the average life expectancy for men was 58 and was 62 for women, which compares with the average life expectancy of 79 in 2016. For some people going from full-time work to full-on retirement doesn’t make economic or emotional sense. Consider what and how you would want to work, if you had the opportunity to choose, which may mean shifting to consulting part-time or working seasonally on a golf course. Perhaps it means working on something you’re excited about like woodworking, writing children’s books, or organic farming for as long as you’re able to do so; it’s not the 9-to-5 you did for 43 years, but it’s something that can provide you with self-worth and continuous learning.
Family and Friends
For most Canadians, connectedness with family and friends outweighed financially-based concerns for seniors in relation to the sense of fulfillment. Your relationships are an investment that won’t offer a return financially, but will be invaluable in terms of happiness, kindness, and care. Strong connectivity is the best weapon against loneliness.
If you have a partner—husband, wife, lifelong roommate—include them in your planning. Clearly outline your goals, wants, needs, and wishes together to best determine how to move forward in retirement. Structuring time in retirement also applies to time spent with your significant other, you’re both going to have a lot more time around one another, and that can come with new challenges. Consider a schedule where one night a week is “date night” and other nights are spent with other friends or family members.
A 2013 Fidelity Study found that 40% of couples didn’t align on their expectations for the lifestyles they envision having in retirement, and one major difference was where each partner wanted to live. After leaving your full-time job there may be nothing keeping you in a particular place. Consider each other’s retirement expectations and activities, as well as collective finances when deciding whether to relocate. Popular options include moving some place warmer (snowbirds!), or to a home with a smaller yard (less maintenance), or to a place with lots of other senior citizens, or to another (cheaper) country.
In addition to strong social relationships, physical health is incredibly important in later life. “Good health” was picked as a top key to happiness in retirement by over 3,300 pre-retirees and seniors in a survey conducted by Age Wave and Merrill Lynch. While opportunity for ailment, injury, and illnesses increase the older one gets, regular exercise, sleep, and a healthy diet can mitigate your chances for sickness or household accidents, as well as decrease your recovery time.
It’s easy to assume that you’ll have more “free time” in retirement than when you were working full-time, and raising children and the like. While more free time sounds like a glorious thing to be faced with, it’s important that the idle hours are spent well. One telling study based in Taiwan found that how free time is managed—not how much free time one has--was correlated with a higher quality of life. Using free time well means organizing activities that align with your personal goals and priorities on a weekly or daily schedule.
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