Retirement is your reward for hard effort and about getting what you want – that is, being happy. But why do so many people find that difficult?
Research shows that most people do not have ridiculously high retirement aspirations – the idea of ‘retiring rich’ is appealing, but unlikely. Most of us hope to maintain a similar standard of living in retirement as in our working years.
According to responses in the YourLifeChoices Retirement Affordability survey, 21 per cent of those polled said that their standard of living in retirement was worse than they thought it would be when they retired.
Other studies point to an increased feeling of isolation and loneliness and a loss of direction, once people stop working.
So, what can you do to make your retirement years happier?
Reduce financial stress
Money may not guarantee retirement happiness, but you don’t want to have to worry about how you are going to pay the bills. To reach financial security, pay off all of your debts, consider downsizing your home and create regular sources of income.
Try and avoid a situation where you are still making mortgage repayments once you have retired. Downsizing can play a big part in this. Selling your home allows you to tap into decades of built-up home equity, so you can then pay for a smaller residence outright and invest any leftover money.
Invest in life after work
The working world creates a set of regular social interactions, which you lose once you retire. That could increase depression and threaten your physical health. Isolation also increases the risk of high blood pressure and disease. So, it is important to find new ways to interact on a regular basis. There are many ways to do this. You can join a book club, have regular golf games or lunches with friends … there are no end of options. What you choose to do is less important than the fact that you maintain regular contact with your peers and stay active.
Set yourself retirement goals
The happiest retirees include those with a strong sense of purpose. Retirees with a strong sense of purpose are much more likely to be happy. You don’t have to set the bar too high, either. Goals that involve seeing friends, setting aside time for the kids and grandkids, learning a new skill or language or taking a new class, are all achievable and provide you with a purpose and reward at the end. Doing volunteer work or pursuing hobbies is associated with great happiness among those who have stopped working.
Do you have any tips for a happy retirement?