For many people, retiring from work can be almost as life-altering as having children or getting married, and it can require just as much personal adjustment. After all, that last day of work means more than just a dramatic shift in your daily schedule; it also represents a significant change in your role. Retirement is a chance to redefine yourself, and these ten tips will help.
Remember the image of a retiree sitting back in their rocking chairs and watching the world go by from the comfort of their front porch? While that might be how your grandfather spent his retirement, it’s not the life today’s seniors have in mind. These days, people in their 60s, 70s, 80’s and beyond are more active than ever. According to the Mayo Clinic, the health benefits of getting regular exercise include everything from managing weight to controlling health conditions like Type II Diabetes. What’s more, getting regular exercise, especially with friends or a spouse, can build your endurance and dramatically improve your state of mind and energy level. Great activities to consider include walking, swimming, or even cross-country skiing.
You know that old saying about learning something new every day? That still holds true, no matter what your age. Stretching your mind, whether through crossword puzzles, library books, or community education classes, is a great way to stay sharp well into the future. Set the goal of trying something new every day, week, or month and enjoy checking it off your list. Have you always wanted to make pottery on the wheel, learn French or practice watercolors? Now is the time to expand those skills. You’re free from the responsibilities of work and child-rearing, so you can focus on doing (and learning) exactly what you want. Some seniors even go back to school to finish their college degrees. To find out about classes near you, contact your local community center, college or university.
Share Your Wisdom
You’ve spent a lifetime accumulating great lessons and a valuable perspective, and retirement is the perfect time to share those gems with others. Young people, whether they’re neighborhood kids or your own children or grandchildren, can benefit from the lessons you’ve learned over the years. One great way to pass on your wisdom is to make a book of life lessons. You can cover a specific topic, like raising kids or managing your finances, or you can make it general. Recording these lessons also helps to keep them fresh in your mind.
Find a Support Group
Any time of great change can be bittersweet. While you may enjoy your new freedom, retirement can also bring a sense of loss. In addition to your changing role, you may be dealing with financial stress, aging, illness, and loss of loved ones. You don’t have to face these challenges alone. Care.com, a site for seniors and their families, says that joining a support group can help seniors cope with challenging situations by sharing their feelings with others. A support group can even provide a social outlet if you’re feeling isolated.
Did you know that recent research indicates that seniors who have an extensive network of friends are healthier and longer-lived than those who simply have a close family? While family relationships are very important, they aren’t a substitute for having friends. You can make friends by attending classes and events at your local senior center, getting out in the community through a church or school, or by starting a weekly card game or book club. While they shouldn’t replace “real life” friendships, virtual friends can also be a great joy. Get active on social networking sites or start a blog to share your experiences with friends around the world.
Record Your Story
Sharing your life story can also be a great way to enjoy your retirement. Reviewing the events of your life allows you to reflect on all you’ve learned and experienced over the years. In addition, recording the your story and family history lets you share those important memories with those you love the most. You can record your life story in a variety of ways. It might be as simple as sitting down in your favorite chair with a tape recorder and just telling the tales you remember. Alternatively, you can write a memoir or hire a professional to do your Video Biography to share with your children, grandchildren, and their descendants. No matter what format you choose, you’ll be giving future generations a priceless gift.
Volunteer Your Skills
Volunteering is another important part of a healthy retirement. Whether you help out in the local elementary school or dish up food at a soup kitchen downtown, you’re giving the gift of your time. Mentoring others is an excellent way to make a difference in the world. Sites like ‘Micro Mentor’ can help you connect with new entrepreneurs who might benefit from your expertise. Perhaps you will even volunteer to teach a course at a community center. You can also speak to local hospitals, nursing homes, schools, churches, and daycare centers about how you can help.
See the World
Now that you don’t have the set schedule that comes with work, every day is a vacation day. Make the most of all that time by doing the traveling you put off during the busier years. Whether you trek to the other side of the globe or the other side of town, this is a great time to see new places. Organizations like Seniors Home Exchange give you a chance to trade houses with others who might enjoy staying in your home. Another great option is Elder Treks which features exotic adventures for active people over age 50.
Take a Moment to Enjoy Life
You’re not rushing off to work in the morning to putting the kids to bed at night, so take a few minutes to just enjoy life. Whether you’re sipping your morning coffee out on the patio or relaxing in front of a fire in the evening, one of the great joys of retirement is the slower pace and the chance to really appreciate all that you have. Keeping a journal can help you focus on those moments as you record them for the day. Another option is carrying a digital camera. You’ll be surprised at what might inspire a photograph, and in the moment it takes you to pull the camera out and turn it on, you can remember to stop and smell the roses you’re about to photograph.
Identify Activities You Love
Overwhelmed with all the options of activities you might enjoy? Let your life inspire you! What did you enjoy doing over the years? Perhaps you loved building model cars as a teenager. Maybe you enjoyed quilting with your mother. List as many favorite activities as you can, then sit back and analyze your list. What do those activities have in common? Perhaps they are all creative or adventure-oriented or social. These common threads can guide you toward the perfect new hobby or experience.
However you choose to spend your time, retirement is a major life change and your outlook will determine a great deal. Attitude is everything. Stay focused on the positive, continue to set goals, and explore. Keeping a good attitude is one the most important ways you can improve your quality of life.