In the book “Retirement RX: The Retirement Docs’ Proven Prescription for Living a Happy, Fulfilling Rest of Your Life,” Dr. Fritz Fraunfelder and Dr. Jim Gilbaugh share the results of their study of those who make the transition to retirement successfully. (Affiliate link: I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if you click through and make a purchase with an affiliate link. Thank you for your support!)
The most satisfied retirees all share eight key traits. While planning for financial security is an element, “highly successful retirees” also plan for happy relationships, intellectual stimulation, enjoyable and fulfilling activities, and a healthy lifestyle. To suddenly have a lot of time on your hands and no idea of how to happily fill it is not a good position to be in. Here are the eight traits of highly successful retirees:
1. Plan ahead. Advance preparation is essential, not only for finances, but also for how your time will be spent. There is no better time to think about how to best spend your time for achieving life goals, contributing to society, and enjoying leisure activities. If you’re part of a couple, this also involves consulting and coordinating with your mate.
2. Maintain a positive attitude. Choose an optimistic outlook and be open to possibilities. Changing a negative mindset isn’t easy, but it can be done. Take time for appreciation each day, have goals, and stay curious.
3. Accept change. Realize that challenges are a part of life as we age, and adjustments will be needed. It’s always good to have contingency plans.
4. Develop a strong support group of family and friends. Lay the foundation now by maintaining current relationships and making new friends. In this chapter, the doctors talk about the circles of support around us. The inner circle includes your closest relationships, often your mate, children and close friends. Around that is an intermediate circle of other friends and family. Next is an outer circle of acquaintances from groups and organizations. And finally, a peripheral circle is made up of doctors, dentist, financial advisor, and others who are a part of our maintenance system.
People will come and go from these circles. When we retire, we lose the interactions with co-workers, and our social world often narrows. Make the effort to try new activities where you can meet others, volunteer, or join a group that interests you.
5. Engage in enjoyable leisure activities. Make a list of ten or more activities you enjoy doing or would like to try. Note those that are done alone or with others, whether they are indoors or outdoors, active or passive, expensive or free. Make these a regular part of your life. Keep your eyes open for new ideas.
6. Follow a healthy lifestyle. You know the drill: watch your diet, exercise regularly, quit smoking, etc.
7. Have a sense of purpose. If your purpose is not clear to you, here is a way to find clues: List different life areas (such as physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) and ask “What will fill my life with value in this area?” Choose a few values that you are most passionate about and plan specific steps to increase them. Also think of actions you can take with your talents and skills to contribute to the world and add value to life.
8. Enjoy expression of spirituality in some form. Embrace spirituality with activities that deepen it, join or expand participation with a church community.
The advice in this book is actually helpful for anyone to follow, working or not! But if retirement is in your future, a good way to prepare for it is to follow this prescription.