Do This One Thing And You Will Be Living A Happy Retirement
The most important factor to living a happy retirement starts with the letter “M.”
And it’s not “Money.”
You shouldn’t ignore money. It’s important. It may be the one thing that preserves the “living” part of “living a happy retirement.”
“Regardless of circumstances, your future health is the biggest unknown factor that may impact retirement,” says Chris Bach, Senior Vice President and Wealth Advisor at RMB Capital in Minneapolis. “Make a conservative (generous) estimate of what health care costs you may incur and earmark those funds—you will sleep better at night.”
While money helps pay for important health maintenance matters, the idea of the unpredictability of your future health provides you a clue as to what that most important “M” word is.
To truly be happy, you can’t let the everyday ups and downs of life bother you. You’ve got to expect the unexpected. And then brush it off.
The secret to achieving this is in the magical “M” word: Mind.
Your state of mind will often spell the difference between happiness and displeasure, between health and burden, and between ease and anxiety.
“Attitude and expectations are critical in ensuring a comfortable retirement,” says John Bush, of Garrett Investment Advisors in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “Knowing that there will be bumps in the road, and planning accordingly, is essential.”
Part and parcel of this positive mental attitude is activity. An idle mind, as they say, can be a dangerous thing—to your retirement!
In the mind of T. Eric Reich, President of Reich Asset Management, LLC in Marmora, New Jersey, the most critical part to a happy retirement “isn’t financial, it’s what are you going to do with your time.” He says, “You need to have a plan for the 40+ hrs. a week you’re no longer working. Without a plan for your time, many retirees feel a sense of loss and a lack of fulfillment in retirement.”
Your car might be able to quickly go from zero to 60 and back to zero again, but you’ll find it a challenge to do the same when it comes to retirement. “If your job was mentally challenging or demanding in many ways you cannot go from running full speed to sitting on a couch doing nothing,” says Peter J. Credon CEO at Crystal Brook Advisors in New York City. “The daily grind may stop, but most people need to feel useful and productive.”
If you want to be living a happy retirement, start thinking about what you’re going to do. “Identify activities you can pursue in retirement that keep you challenged and meaningfully engaged,” says Brendan Willmann of Granada Wealth Management, in Asheville, North Carolina.
“You need to transition to something that keeps you using your mind and keeps your body moving,” says Credon. “Your mind is no different than any other muscle in your body. Like your muscles, your mind needs exercise to stay sharp, fit and productive. Use it or lose it. Hobbies, volunteering, doing something you never had time to do, consulting and helping people or businesses with your expertise, taking classes to learn new skills. Social interaction is also an important component.”
You get the idea. It might sound like work, but that’s precisely the idea. It’s a work-out routine for your brain.
But it’s more than merely exercise. It’s a purpose.
“Having a purpose in retirement is critical because it makes your life more meaningful,” says Patti Black, a partner at Bridgeworth, LLC in Birmingham, Alabama. “Too many people retire to get away from something and have not thought about what they are going to do when they are no longer working. Playing golf is not a purpose! Spend time thinking about who you are and what are you going to be doing now that you’re not working.”
You needn’t focus on this psychological aspect of the benefits of mental activity. You need to only know that the satisfaction of accomplishing something, even if it’s small, gives you an inner satisfaction that makes life more pleasing.
And that makes you—and your retirement—happy.
So you should heed the advice of Peter Credon when he says, “A critical behavior to an enjoyable retirement is retiring to something.”
Chris Carosa, Forbes
7 February 2020