Having helped 100s of people retire, it’s no secret retirement is one of those big life events where people count on a financial professional. In my experience, they do this for a few reasons. One is to get validation and comfort. They like knowing they have a strategy for their non-working years. The other reason is the impetus of this blog–a litmus test to see how their retirement compares with their peers. The business of financial planning gives me a unique perspective. I get to see how many diverse people handle different stages of life. I see clients (and friends) live happy, successful retirements. Others, sadly do not fulfill their retirement destiny. That’s why I decided to write a blog about the secret elixir. It’s something I generated through the perspective of clients who I feel have the “perfect” retirement lifestyle.
The Perfect Retirement
I’ll preface the rest of the blog by saying two things. One is that this article is very subjective. I recognize what one person enjoys, may not be the same for someone else. The other thing is I’m not going to focus on the finance side of things. That is an entirely different issue all together. Rather, I’ll assume you’ve worked with someone to understand your financial retirement needs. This blog should be used as a guideline of general principles, that anecdotally seem to lead to the happiest retirees.
The first common denominator of a perfect retiree is having the right mindset. These individuals are mentally in a place to leave the working world behind and retire to something not from something. They realize they want this lifestyle and are truly ready to embrace it. It comes with an understanding that every day is a gift and they treat it as such. Having the right attitude is the very first step in preparing for that perfect retirement.
This blog is about to get jam-packed with things I see happily retired people do on a regular basis. It is going to sound fun, exciting, but also exhausting. That said, it’s very important to remember retirement is a big vacation (hopefully). Make sure to relax and take it day by day. I understand relaxing is hard for most of us. We’ve been hard-wired by today’s society to do the opposite. But, now the pressures of the world are hopefully behind you. So, go relax for a change and unplug! Put that cell phone down, dust off that hammock, and throw away that alarm clock. The new time is your time! Once mastered, I see clients really embracing the change. Several come into meetings in their Hawaiian shirts, for example. It’s about showing more than just a fashion statement, it’s about their new found life.
Friends & Family
I see truly happy retirees surrounded by the ones they love. They now have an active social calendar, filled with date nights and great friend activities. Also, retirees that are fortunate enough to have family close by spend a lot of time involved in that world. They babysit the grandkids, take their families on cruises, rent beach houses together, or even just Facetime on a regular basis. There was even a recent study out of Germany and Switzerland which suggests watching your grandchildren may lead to a longer and healthier life. Regardless of who the special people are in your life, make an effort to see them more. Surround yourself by them often. It’s amazing how quickly life passes. Enjoy the moments while you have them. The best thing about this tip is it can be done without putting a dent in your pocketbook. It just takes effort!
Travel isn’t for everyone. But, those who embrace it–love it. Some people are just homebodies and that’s fine. However, traveling can take on many different forms. There’s long weekend trips, your annual Caribbean cruise, simple day trips, or even renting (or buying) a Winnebago to drive across the US. The world has a lot to offer. Exploring and enjoying these sites can bring adventure to your retirement life.
In the words of the late George Michael, “you got to have faith, faith, faith!” (You’ll notice I didn’t say religion.) Faith is the happiness factor I see in retirees. Those who have faith in something, generally have a fulfilled life. It could be faith in yoga, Reikki, religion, family, or even mankind. In my experience, just having faith in something bigger than ourselves leads to that perfect retirement.
Those who have achieved the pinnacle of retirement lifestyles have a flare for giving back. They get enjoyment out of helping others. Often, many have wasted mental energy by wanting to help, but simply did not have the time. I often see it in my retiree clients and it generally helps give a well-rounded ideal retirement.
Health & Exercise
It’s very hard to enjoy a long retirement if you are unhealthy. Those that have a regular exercise regimen and do their best to take care of themselves, usually maximize retirement. They live longer, healthier, and more trouble free lives. Of course, there are many situations out of our control. However, if you try to control your health as best you can, the probability of actually enjoying a happy healthy retirement increases. Spend What did this financial planner just say? That’s right–spend! Now, I don’t mean spend irresponsibly. But, go spend your money; you worked hard for it. You can’t take it with you, so you may as well enjoy the fruits of your labor. All too often I see people hunker down in retirement and barely spend at all out of fear. If you’ve put together a solid plan and feel comfortable with it, then work that plan! Splurge once in a while. Just do it responsibly, but don’t be afraid to actually enjoy those golden years.
Find your happy place and spend as much time in it as possible. This is very customizable. For some it’s fishing, for others it’s opening up a daycare for their grandchildren. Perhaps it’s putting your toes in the sand of your favorite coastline. If it makes you happy, than do it. Do it as often as you can. You’ll never regret those moments and you should maximize your enjoyment as much as possible.
This last part comes to me from my late father. He was many things to many people. At the end of the day; however, he was happy when he retired. He subscribed to a philosophy of life whereby he realized you can’t control everything. Quite simply, it’s easier to be happy than not. Things rolled off his shoulders with remarkable ease. I found he was an inspiration to all that knew him (and hopefully to all who so kindly read this blog).
There you have it — through the eyes of someone who has help retire more people than likely anyone you know. I’ve had the pleasure of watching and helping many achieve their perfect retirement. Regardless of what that ideal formula is for you, hopefully the above will give you a foundation to start working on your perfect retirement.