The most successful retirees are the ones with the biggest bank accounts, right? Not necessarily. Although good financial planning and a solid retirement strategy play major roles in being comfortable and content after leaving the workforce, there’s more to it.
Retirement is more than dollars and cents or a red-circled date on the calendar. It’s also about attitude. Understanding that this stage is just as much about good planning as it is about taking on the unknown with an open mind and enthusiasm is an important step. “The happiest retirees embrace the range of possibilities and new beginnings in store for them,” says Dorian Mintzer, Ph.D., retirement coach and co-author of The Couple’s Retirement Puzzle: 10 Must-Have Conversations for Creating an Amazing New Life Together, in an interview with Athene.
Discover four shared traits of happy retirees and how to make them your own.
1. They’ve found a new purpose in life. For many of us, working and raising a family provide meaning and structure to our lives, both in terms of how we spend our days and in how we see ourselves (“I am a lawyer” or “I am a nurse”). Those who transition most successfully into retirement find new ways to shape their days and new ways to identify themselves. “Smart retirees think about what they’re retiring to, rather than what they’re retiring from,” says Mintzer.
Make it yours. Before saying goodbye to work, ask yourself some questions to help you find your path to happiness.
- How do you want to spend your time in retirement?
- Do you want to work part time or start an encore career to stay active and socially connected?
- Do you find your sense of purpose in helping others?
- Do you want to spend more time with family — babysitting grandkids, for example.
- Are there hobbies, like woodworking or learning a new language, that you want to pick up again or something new you’d like to learn?
Have some fun when you leave the 9-to-5 routine behind and then answer these questions to help you find new purpose.
2. They have their financial house in order. People who do well have taken time to realistically look at what they can afford to live on, and they adjust their retirement date if they’re not fully ready. Many people may be retired 20 or 30 years … or more. “And that requires careful forethought,” says Mintzer. It’s not necessarily about having a huge nest egg but rather about being honest with yourself. For example, our money will last XX years with this budget. When you know what you have to work with, it’s a matter of planning accordingly.
Make it yours. As best you can, calculate how much money you will need to live on. If you’re nearing retirement or have recently left the workforce but feel you aren’t near your financial goals, you may want to consider different options to help bridge the gap — downsizing your home to lower housing costs or paying off debts, such as car loans, for example.
Enlist the help of a financial professional to talk about solutions, liked fixed indexed annuities (FIAs). With their growth potential, protection from loss due to market downturns and guaranteed income to help your money last as long as it needs to, they may be a valuable addition to your diversified retirement strategy.
3. They live life with zest but are realistic about their health. It’s not easy to think about your health declining, but it’s a fact many people may face as they age thanks to longer lifespans and better medical care. The retirees with the best futures are those who take their well-being seriously. An upbeat outlook combined with frequent exercise and plenty of activities that keep your brain active can help you feel better and may help improve your overall health. Surround yourself with friends and family who are there to help if you need it.
Make it yours. Think about how, and where, you want to age. For example, while it’s never easy to uproot your life, you may be happier relocating to a home in which you’ll have less to care for. Proximity to public transportation, neighbors and family are also important considerations.
4. They’re good communicators. This is especially important for couples who negotiate different visions of retirement. If one of you worked while the other stayed home, for example, retirement represents a big shift in how your days are spent. Happy retirees find ways to strike a balance between time together and time apart. It’s important to maintain outside friendships or find new ones in addition to your together time.
Make it yours. If you’re part of a couple, it’s important to be on the same page so this stage of life can be the best for both of you.
- Start conversations before one or both of you retires.
- Share your dreams and visions, as well as your individual and combined bucket lists.
- Talk about the ideas you share and the ones you don’t.
- Prioritize and look at your finances to decide the best way to reach your goals together.
On the road to retiring ready
Having enough money to enjoy the next chapter is an important part of finding happiness in retirement. But there’s another side, too. It is just as important to find your purpose after you’ve spent decades working. When you identify what you want to retire to, your financial professional can help you create a solid savings strategy designed to support your goals. For example, you may benefit from adding an FIA to your retirement portfolio for the growth potential, protection from loss due to market downturns and income they can provide.