Six tips to a successful retirement
We all want to live a happy and successful retirement. But sometimes our attitude and approach to those golden years keep us locked into old habits or preconceived ideas.
If you are keen to break free of that straitjacket, here are six considerations that may help to unlock your way to the retirement you want. Some of the thinking may have been borrowed from the American website Retirement Lifestyle, but have a universal appeal.
A holistic approach avoids concentrating on any one factor above all others – and that includes the amount of money you have to spend in retirement. That said, if you spend your retirement financially struggling, it may not be the retirement you dreamed of.
Some people might make the mistake of thinking they will have enough money in their retirement, because they have “savings” or “will have the mortgage paid off”. But how much is enough? The income you need in retirement is a subjective and personal matter, of course, and riches for some might be poverty for others.
It depends more on your vision of the future in retirement and the kind of life you choose to lead. For some people it may be a big lifestyle change, such as downsizing – for others it could be kicking back and relaxing.
You also need to consider just how long your retirement may last – if you retire at 55, for example, will you be able to live comfortably for the next 30 or 40 years on the money you have put aside?
Although money is not everything, it certainly helps put to rest some of the obstacles to enjoying the life you intended. Financial planning and pension planning in particular, therefore, have crucial roles to play in achieving a successful retirement. So, make sure you regularly review your financial arrangements and seek independent professional advice to make sure you are on track.
2. Family and friends
Family and friends may play a critical role in maintaining that healthy and positive attitude towards life.
The charity Age UK reports that 3.6 million older people in this country live alone, 2 million of them are aged 75 or more, and 1.9 million of them are so lonely that they feel isolated, ignored and effectively invisible.
The loneliness that comes from that sense of social isolation may prompt health issues such as sleep problems, depression, a decline in overall mental health, hypertension, vascular resistance and psychological stress. The cumulative health problems have been calculated to be as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Value the family and acquaintances you have, therefore, and don’t let creeping age deter you from making new friends. Which leads us on to step three.
3. Social networking
Social networking might be giving it a new and fancy name, but it is not something only for the young done on a smartphone or tablet.
Your physical social networks are just as important throughout your retirement – indeed, they might be even more valuable, as you grow to depend on others’ help and support more and more.
Combat the risks of isolation by getting out of the house as often as you are able, meet new people and try new things to do – get in touch with local clubs and groups where you can meet and make new friends and those you can count on.
Further reading: Making the most of your retirement.
The latest figures from Age UK reveal that during Sept-Nov 2014, there were 8.42 million people aged 50-64 and 1.13 million people aged 65 and over in employment; together, this was 29% of ‘economically active’ people aged 16+.
So, you are probably losing out if you think that retirement means never working again.
Your formal career or line of work helped to define you in the days before retirement and gave you skills which you continue to carry throughout your life. Retirement simply gives you more freedom to pick and choose just how you work, when you work and who you do it with.
Work – which does not need to be paid labour or full-time but can be voluntary – may continue to help define you in retirement, maintain social networks and continue to give purpose to your life.
Further reading: Job satisfaction is the main driver for older workers.
5. Leisure is better than having nothing to do
Retirement offers much more than 30 years’ or so of having nothing to do.
You are more likely to maintain positive outlooks and attitudes – and the healthy body and mind that goes with them – if you still find that there are not enough hours in the day to do all the things you want to do.
Enjoy your leisure, but think of leisure as an active and positive state of being, rather than one in which you sit around and do nothing day after day.
That also means taking as much exercise as your body, and physical capabilities, continue to allow.
The National Health Service (NHS) stresses the importance of maintaining an active life, with plenty of exercise, if you are to avoid the risks of falls, becoming obese, developing heart disease, or even facing earlier death than you might otherwise have done.
Retirement should be a time to really enjoy life, when you have the freedom to pursue what it is you really want to do, whether travelling, learning something new or simply spending more time with those you love. We hope these six tips help steer you in the right direction for a successful retirement.
Any data referred to in this article is correct as at the time of writing.