But what do I do now? (How to plan for a fulfilling retirement)

A solid financial foundation is always a good start but there are other ways to help make your retirement years happy and fulfilling.

If you’re asking yourself what you can do each day, the answers is: LOTS!

If you’re not sure how to work towards a truly fulfilling retirement, try these practical tips.

Understand your finances

First and foremost, you need to have a clear understanding of your retirement funding. Do you have enough? Are you entitled to an Age Pension? How should you be using your superannuation? A fullfilling retirement will generally start from this point. It’s the big issue.

If you haven’t built the nest egg you’d hoped for, work a little longer if you can. Focus on saving so you can feel more secure, while still budgeting for the things that matter most.

A range of interests

The happiest retirees explore, socialise and get or stay active – and they often have two or three hobbies.

It doesn’t matter what those hobbies are as long as you’re engaged, enjoying yourself and, hopefully mixing with others. By making time for the things you’re passionate about, and that give you pleasure, retirement can be a happy and fulfilling experience 

Develop daily routines that make you feel good

If you’ve spent the majority of your life working, retirement is a huge transition. Find a routine that gives you time to take care of your household and yourself. Whether than means you start each day with a visit to a local cafe to read the paper over a cup of coffee, or you simply take the dog for a walk around the block, it doesn’t matter. But by having a reason to get up and get active and something purposeful to do each day – such as volunteering at your local op-shop or community centre, visiting friends or family, or endeavouring to improve your golf handicap – a routine can help you feel secure and give meaning to your life.

Stay close to your kids – just not too close!

If you have children, living in close proximity to at least one of them can be a positive. But not if they are dependent on you in ways that are stressful and demanding. The same goes for grandchildren. It’s all about balance and making time for yourself.

Shedding the working persona

People often place so much importance on their identity in the workplace that they’re lost in retirement.

Delivering things on time may have defined who you were at work but now you need a new identity. Think of what matters most to you and dive into those areas. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn more about collecting wine, or join a choir. So, now, instead of being ‘Kerry from marketing’, you can become …

Stay connected to friends

It’s not about how many friends you have, quality counts.

In retirement, having friends you can rely on is vital. Friendships should feel easy and not filled with conflict. If you’re not happy with the state of your friendships, seek new connections through a hobby, sporting club or volunteer activity.

Try new things

Retirement can be a wonderful time to explore all the things you love but never had time to do. Think about taking a part-time (paid or unpaid) job in a different field to where you’ve worked, or look into learning that instrument you always dreamt of playing. Or maybe you want to finally work on that book you’ve always imagined writing.

Fulfilment in retirement doesn’t have to be about big achievements, though. Spend time with friends and family, or pets, and look after your physical and mental health by being active and involved in the world outside your window. 

Are you already retired and feeling fulfilled? Or are you struggling to find your groove and still wondering how to fill each day? What’s your favourite thing to do each week? Share your stories in the comments below.

Read more: Even short walks can reduce depression symptoms

Written by Claire Halliday

Claire is an accomplished journalist who has written for leading magazines and newspapers, such as The Sunday Age and Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Women's Weekly, Marie Claire, Rolling Stone, Australian House & Garden, GQ, The Australian, Herald Sun, The Weekly Review, Kidspot.com.au and The Independent on Sunday (UK).

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