Plan ahead for active, happy retirement years

By Nancy Schultz | Jun 10, 2009

You may have excelled in planning a secure financial foundation for your ideal retirement, but you may still have some work to do if you haven’t planned what you’ll be doing in the wake of your career. Financial security is necessary, to be sure, but it’s not the equivalent of achieving real satisfaction in your later years.

Surveys of retirement happiness show that those who are physically and socially active are the happiest – far more satisfied with life than those who wake up on Monday following the retirement party wondering what to do. Sitting around watching television or lounging on the porch or at the beach may be pleasant for your first few days or weeks, but for most people this kind of uninvolved, too-much-time-on-your-hands existence quickly leads to loneliness, boredom and depression, according to studies done by the AARP.

Value of a list

You can plan ahead to avoid this. A list of your retirement plans and hopes can help you gain focus. Sketch out the kinds of regular physical activities that will keep you mentally and physically healthy. Note what social plans you’ll have with friends and relatives and get in touch with organizations for which you would like to volunteer. Decide whether you want to further your education.

If extensive travel is on your agenda, make a priority list. Do you plan to keep a hand in the work force? What about getting a pet, if circumstances allow and your health is up to it? Studies show pets can help keep you active and are even credited with lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

If you’re retired, you already know this and undoubtedly have taken action to make sure you remain active and involved with the world. If you’re not yet retired, now may be the ideal time to plan ahead by staying physically active and socially involved in ways that can be continued into retirement.
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