Did you know that retirement (at least the way we know it) has only been around for 80 years? In 1935, the government established Social Security, and for the first time those entering retirement had a dependable source of income. Prior to that, most seniors just continued to work in less demanding jobs or at a slower pace until they were unable to. The average life expectancy of an American was 61 years old. This meant that you worked most of your life and had only a few years for enjoying retirement.
Fast forward 80 years, and now our life expectancy is much longer, in fact, many are expected to live into their 80s and 90s. Since the nature of our jobs has changed over time, many retiring today are healthier and more energetic. Retired adults are no longer satisfied with merely enjoying a life of leisure. Studies have found that retirees who stay active and engaged during the “3rd Act” of life are happier. What combination of work, learning and leisure will help you enjoy your retirement more fully?
How to Stay Engaged and Active In Retirement:
1) Your Career Needn’t End At Retirement
Whether it’s consulting in your field of expertise, working part time, or turning a hobby into a new business, you still have many options for staying productive after retirement. For instance, I know a friend who was passionate about woodworking and created a business out of making holiday lawn signs for his neighbors. With the establishment of local online marketplaces such as Craigslist, you can also consider selling your products online. Working during retirement not only increases your financial security, but also provides you with an established social network, structure for your days, and a sense of accomplishment.
2) Lifelong Learning Improves Your Memory
Have you always been curious about how the brain really works or what it takes to create the perfect photo? Classes in such topics and more are often offered at local adult school, community colleges or universities. Many communities also offer Parks and Recreation programs where you can take inexpensive classes in art, dance, language, music and exercise.
If you prefer the comfort of your own home, there are now many options as well including virtual class rooms, e-books and audio books (see our article “Making Time For Hobbies”). Pursuing knowledge at any age can provide multiple benefits including keeping your mind sharp, improving your memory, increasing self-confidence, and building new skills.
3) Multiple Hobbies Can Be Better Than One
A national survey of older adults found that the happiest retirees tend to engage in three to four activities regularly. Activities that provide the highest level of satisfaction usually have several of these attributes:
- It’s your passion(s).
- It’s aligned with your core values. If you love helping children, are you volunteering at an orphanage or children’s hospital?
- It’s part of your regular routine. Whether it’s twice a week or once a month, you have built it into your schedule.
- You are doing it with one or more people. Connecting and maintaining meaningful relationships is a key source of satisfaction in retirement.
- It’s challenging in a good way. Activities that take a bit of concentration allow you to enter the “zone”, a mental state of operation where you are fully immersed and enjoying the activity.
As you can see, there are many ways to stay engaged and active during retirement. This, in fact, can be the most exciting stage of your life. For the first time, you are able to create your own schedule based on your values, interests and needs. To learn more about the topic, we recommend reading the book “What Color is Your Parachute? For Retirement“. If you would like to have further discussions regarding retirement planning, please contact us at Blankinship & Foster.