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Research shows that early retirement reduces our life expectancy. For example, Josef Zweimuller’s research showed for every year of early retirement, people lose around two months of their life expectancy. So if we aren’t very good at retiring as a society, what do we need to consider to improve our non-working years? From the numerous conversations with and observations from clients, family and friends, I believe there are 3 key ingredients to a happy and healthy retirement.
If you think about your happiness in retirement represented as a big, strong oak tree, there are three key ingredients that your oak tree needs to remain happy and healthy.
Money is the water needed to grow a strong and healthy oak tree. Without it, the tree will quickly shrivel and die, in the same way that a happy and fruitful retirement will if you run out of money. Money is a big concern for people leading up to and during retirement. Without it, you can’t stop working. Earning money in your 60s and even in your 70s is feasible, but running out of money in your 80s or 90s is a massive concern, because at this point there is a fair chance you are incapable of earning an income.
This area isn’t just about fears of money scarcity though; it’s also about using your resources wisely so you can best enjoy your new life. It’s about managing your money effectively, minimising your risks and structuring your income so you can enjoy your retirement to the max! You will need to map out your financial future to ensure you know what lies ahead of you, and you will need to understand the best ways to draw an income to facilitate your new life.
How you use your time is the sunshine needed to grow a strong and healthy oak tree. Finding and pursuing your purpose, ticking off items in your ‘Bucket List’ and creating a rewarding life with balance are the rays of light that allow your oak tree to flourish. This balance of your time will be a key determining factor in how happy you are in your new life. Without these rays of light, your retirement will lose its colour, and your growth will become stunted.
People reaching retirement are usually worried how they are going to spend their time. Their spouse is often just as worried! Will they be hanging around the house, getting in the way? The loss of a set structure can be debilitating for some people, and they can slip downhill rapidly. There is only so much golf you can play, people will say, and those who don’t play golf are often even more susceptible to a dull existence.
The daily activities that fill your time have a significant impact on how much you enjoy your new life. This factor, however, is actually a deeper one because it’s inherently linked to questions like: ‘Why you are here?’, ‘What you are doing?’, ‘With whom you are spending your time?’ and ‘Why you are doing what you do?’
Finally, your wellbeing is the flow of nutrients that feed your oak tree. The quality of the output is determined by the quality of the input. The health of your body, your mind and your relationships will give you strength and longevity. If you do not feed your oak tree with the nutrients it needs, its growth will slow down, the tree will be open to disease and its life will be shortened. Nurturing your body, mind and relationships will give you the strength to live a long and amazing new life.
We have all seen people who age rapidly in retirement, both physically and mentally. In retirement, it is easy to lose discipline. For those who lacked discipline and a healthy lifestyle before retirement, it is often very difficult to change.
So how can you stay healthy or even become healthier, so that you can live a long and enjoyable new life? How can you ensure that your mind continues to expand and develop rather than gradually shrivelling over time? And how can you interact with the people you love and care about to maximise your happiness?
Getting older might make you feel like you are slowing down. Do not be fooled into thinking this is cognitive decline, you have so much information in your brain that it takes more time to access it! You can be stronger and happier in your retirement than ever before. Life is an adventure, you can expect change and embrace it. Learn the right time to retire, how to boost your retirement income and create your dream retirement. Follow your dreams and love what you do!
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