By Boyce F. Lowery, CLU, ChFC
Retirement is right around the corner. You’ve worked your whole life for this moment, but there’s a tinge of worry mixed in with your plans for travel and relaxation. Don’t worry, though—it’s normal! Retirement is a huge adjustment. After all, you did just spend 30-40 years in the workforce. But since you’ve spent so much time working to reach this milestone, you ought to make sure you enjoy it! Here are 6 ways you can achieve a happier retirement and make sure all of your hard work pays off.
1. Find Purpose
The first secret to finding happiness in retirement doesn’t just apply to retirement. Studies show that individuals who live a purpose-driven life are happier and healthier on average than those who don’t. (1) Not only that, they also live longer! (2) A purposeful life is commonly associated with fulfillment and motivation, and can be found in many ways. Volunteering for a local nonprofit or your church, spending time with your grandchildren, or pursuing a newfound hobby are great ways to find purpose in your day-to-day life.
2. Expect Less
It’s no secret that money can buy peace of mind and less stress. But can money buy you happiness in retirement? The answer: to an extent. Researchers have found that increased income is associated with increased levels of happiness and life satisfaction up to a point—$105,000 to be exact. (3) Beyond that threshold, happiness levels plateau and additional increases in income result in negligible changes in happiness.
So, if you’ve worked your whole life to be wealthy but significant wealth doesn’t equal happiness, what can you do? Savor the small moments and learn to expect less. It’s unrealistic to think your retirement lifestyle will mirror your pre-retirement lifestyle, when your income level was at its peak. Heavy expectations of what your life should look like can be a huge mental drain and often results in feelings of failure and sadness over time.
Instead, focus on what you do have and live in the moment as much as possible. According to Harvard Health, practicing meditation or mindfulness can have significant impacts on your overall sense of happiness and well-being. (4)
3. Stay Healthy
Declining health and how to pay for the associated medical bills is the biggest concern for many retirees. In fact, 70% of Americans cite healthcare costs as the most pressing issue on their minds when planning for retirement. (5) Incorporating long-term care options into your overall financial plan can help ease this concern as you enter into retirement. Once in retirement, you can alleviate your chances of becoming seriously ill by prioritizing your mental and physical health.
Sure, genetics play a role in how healthy you will be as you age, but there are also things you can do to mitigate your risk. Exercise and diet are key to maintaining health. Any form of exercise is better than nothing and can help decrease your risk of premature death by up to 30%. (6)
4. Phase Retirement
Another way to increase your happiness is to work part-time or use a phased approach to retirement. Adjusting to retirement is a huge transition! Going from working 40+ hours a week for 30+ years to suddenly having all the time in the world is a shock to the system, to say the least. It takes time to adjust, so don’t feel pressure to rush into retirement all at once.
It’s becoming increasingly popular for people to approach retirement in phases. Slowly adjusting to reduced hours, part-time work, then eventually full retirement. Studies have shown that gradual retirement and a sense of control over your timeline can actually lead to increased levels of happiness among retirees. (7)
5. Prioritize Friendships
Researchers at Harvard have found that retirees who are able to consistently spend time with friends report increased levels of happiness as opposed to those who spend their time alone. (8) Based on this study and many others like it, be sure to prioritize connecting with your friends, family, and loved ones throughout retirement. Knowing that you have a strong support system can make a significant difference in your overall level of happiness, especially if you experience the loss of a spouse, fall on hard times, or suffer from declining health.
6. Plan Ahead
One of the best ways to improve your happiness in retirement is to have a plan for what you want it to look like. Articulating your vision for the future is a great way to: 1. motivate yourself to make it happen, and 2. enjoy a sense of fulfillment once your plan comes to fruition. It can also increase your level of happiness by helping prepare for potential retirement pitfalls like unexpected health issues or running out of money. These concerns can and should be incorporated into a retirement plan and thoroughly assessed by a qualified financial advisor.
Get Started Today
We at Suncrest Advisors know that you’ve worked your whole life for a happy and healthy retirement. Whether you’re retiring in 5 years or 20 years, we’re here to help you navigate the path to a fulfilling retirement by helping you build a solid financial plan for the future. Call us at 888-827-0146 for a free and confidential consultation.
Boyce Lowery is a 40-year veteran and established expert in the insurance industry. As the managing partner of Suncrest Advisors, he, his partner, and their associates all aim to provide financial security and peace of mind to business owners, executives and professionals, and high net-worth individuals across the United States. Along with more than four decades of experience, Boyce is a Chartered Life Underwriter® (the premier designation for insurance professionals signifying specialized knowledge in life insurance and estate planning) and a Chartered Financial Consultant® (known as the advanced financial planning designation). To learn more, visit https://suncrestadvisors.com/ or connect with Boyce on LinkedIn.