After a few decades of work, you’re probably looking forward to retirement with distinct anticipation. Lying ahead of you are years of leisure---time spent in doing the things you enjoy and making the most of your “golden years.”
There’s certainly a great deal to be celebrated during this time. The occasion of your retirement is a special and memorable event and it should be marked and recognised. Why not gather with family, friends, and colleagues for the ultimate send-off party?
But after the champagne has been toasted and the cake has been eaten, it’s time to get down to business.
Retirement is a wonderful season of life, but, like any other major transition, it cannot be approached without a little planning.
You might be surprised to discover that the first month of retirement is highly important, and has a significant impact on guiding how you will spend the rest of your retired life. Therefore, it’s vital that you begin retirement intentionally---setting forth goals and developing habits that will stay with you in the years to come.
Heading Into Your Golden Years
Preparing for retirement involves many practicalities that must be attended to. But these are the nitty-gritty details that can be sorted prior to your retirement. Roughly one year or more before you intend to retire, there are a few essential items to check off your to-do list:
Get your money right
From a pension to self-managed super funds and outside investments, finances differ from retiree to retiree but the key is knowing exactly what money you’re working with for the coming years.
And once you do, it’s time to take a look at your expenses. Examining your monthly expenses will help you stick to a similar budget, or you may need to reconfigure based on your retirement income. Either way, getting this sorted prior to retirement is vital and will help you avoid stress when it comes time to make the change.
Check up on your health
It’s never a bad time to visit your doctor or to make sure your health is where it should be. But retirement is as good a time as any, particularly as you’re advancing in age and approaching a major life transition. Understanding the general state of your health can help ensure you’re able to maintain it going into retirement and can advise you if there are any activities you might need to avoid.
Create a bucket list
Last but not least, it’s time to let your imagination soar. As you enter retirement, you’re going to have plenty of time on your hands. This is time that you get to spend doing whatever it is you want to do! So grab a cuppa, sit at your table, and jot down every idea that enters your head. No bucket list item is too big or too small. You can revisit the list in a few days and begin to prioritise which items are “must-do’s” and which are “would-be-nice-to-do’s.”
The Importance of Building Habits
While you might be ready to launch headfirst into completing your bucket list, it’s wise to take a step back and ensure you’re getting your retirement off on the right foot. Retirement is ultimately a lifestyle change, which means it needs to be something that you can keep up consistently. For instance, even if you plan to travel a great deal during retirement, you will still have to deal with the day-to-day minutiae of life. Building solid methods to manage these things right from the start is of the utmost importance. The key? Creating positive habits.
Did you know it takes 21 days to build a habit? In the 1950s, a plastic surgeon named Maxwell Maltz came to the conclusion that a fully formed habit can be achieved within 21 days. Over time, this became an oft-repeated maxim for habit-forming. Yet research remains divided as to how long a habit truly takes to form in an individual. Some experts suggest 66 days. Others have different, highly specific numbers.
The truth is, while habit-forming may be faster or slower depending on each individual, it likely takes AT LEAST 21 days to build a habit to the point of becoming automatic. Even so, doing something repeatedly for 21 or 30 days is bound to ingrain it to a certain depth. Creating habits in your first 30 days of retirement will, therefore, be instrumental in helping set the stage for the coming years.
So, Which habits do the newly retired need to set quickly to avoid wasting the best, most free years of their life?
6 Habits the Newly-Retired Should Adopt
1. Create an abundant social life and expand your social network
Right from the start, make it a habit to get out and about and connect with others. While you’ll likely want to spend more time with your families (especially those precious grandchildren) don’t forget to foster your friendships, too. Often, without the need to go to work, it’ very easy to become more isolated from peers. Make it a point to plan outings and gatherings with important people in your life. You could especially consider making a weekly date with other friends in retirement---it gives you something to look forward to and will definitely benefit you all.
2. Develop an exercise habit and a love of being active
It’s never a bad time to focus on your health----but in retirement, you have plenty of free hours to keep your body fit.
If you’re not already active, those first 30 days of retirement are the perfect time to put good habits in place. Exercise can be a tougher one to stick with, so be sure you’re doing an activity you genuinely enjoy. Go for a daily walk. Swim a few laps in the ocean or a swimming pool. Whatever you do, make it more than a chore---make it an enjoyable lifestyle change, and something you look forward to.
Group exercise can also be a great way to socialise. Classes such as yoga or Jazzercise connect you with others who are also pursuing a healthy lifestyle. If fitness classes aren’t your thing, consider taking daily walks with a mate. It’s an opportunity to move your bodies and to have a conversation, too!
3. Be organised and intentional with your time
Probably the most common issue that faces retirees is having too much time on their hands! Without a workplace to go to each day, it is easy to discover that you’ve got an excess of leisure time. This unstructured time might feel freeing at first, but it can quickly spiral into causing negative habits, and---frankly---wasted time.
Don’t let this happen to you. Your time is precious, perhaps now more than ever. To avoid this problem, you don’t need to book your days full of activities. You simply need to be intentional about your time.
Many retirees find that having a set routine is still quite beneficial. It provides you with expectations for your days and also allows you to remain organised. If you have goals (such as regular exercise or checking off a bucket list) organising your time, even on the daily level, helps you move towards achieving those goals. Having a routine is a good way to remain intentional about the things you do. Knowing your time is valuable, you can prioritise those activities which have real meaning for you. Anything that isn’t essential or doesn’t bring you health and happiness, you don’t need to make time for. Being intentional in retirement is not only helpful, it’s a blessing.
4. Do something that has meaning for you---and for the world
Another way to make the most of your time is to seek out an activity or a cause that is particularly meaningful to you. You may choose to volunteer your time at a charity that’s near and dear to your heart. Or it could be mean teaching a class at your local community centre. The key is that you’ll know your time and energies are making a difference in some way. At any point in your life, that’s a valuable and precious thing, but as a retiree, when you have so much time open to you, there’s extra significance in devoting yourself to a cause or giving selflessly.
5. Minimise TV time
All those free hours! And so much good television!
Actually, there’s not that much good television these days, and you’ll be far better off if you don’t let yourself spend too much time in front of that screen.
Retirees often fall victim to that comfortable enemy---the sofa. It’s easy to want to relax and catch up on your favourite programmes, but since you’re spending these early days of retirement building good habits, one bad habit to nip in the bud is excessive TV time.
There’s a great deal more to life than what you see on TV. While it’s certainly important to keep up with news and events, and you may want to be “in the know” with some elements of popular culture, the best way to do so is to get out and about and live your life.
Instead of watching tv, go for a walk, visit the local market, make some art or a craft, bake a delicious cake, book plane tickets to your dream country, or read a novel. There’s a lot to do in your golden years; don’t let television absorb too many of them.
6. Don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone
Finally, know that there’s no time like the present to grasp adventure. Retirement is an excellent time to step way outside of your comfort zone and do things you may never have dreamed of doing. There’s a real freedom in having reached a certain age and no longer having to punch a timecard each day. Bask in that thrilling freedom and just go for it. Try new things. Go unusual places. Sing like no one’s listening and dance like no one’s watching, and find out why these years are destined to be your very best yet.