Life after retirement doesn’t always end up looking like what you imagined.
What we’ve been trained to imagine
There’s all this hype about crossing the finish line and immediately settling into an epic life full of zest, money, happiness, romance and adventure.
Our society has convinced us that if we simply pack away savings into our 401Ks our entire career like responsible human beings, all of a sudden we’ll experience a life after retirement that looks like these top Google images results:
What reality looks like
Not that we can’t have this amazing picture perfect life after retirement… we absolutely can. I’m pointing out that this isn’t the reality for most people upon retirement.
Rather than showing you inauthentic images of sad and stressed seniors, I want you to picture your own reality. Check out these stats:
- Studies have shown that the two most vulnerable times in your life are the first year after birth and the first 12 months after retirement.
- One in seven boomers is treated for depression, which is a higher rate among other generations of American adults (source).
- Divorce among Boomers is increasing. The number of divorces among that age demo has doubled since the 1990s (source).
- A 2017 study by the University of Padua in Italy shows that retirement at the age of eligibility has a detrimental effect on cognitive ability and can be used to predict the onset of dementia.
Why is no one talking about this?
I’ve researched “retirement advice” pretty thoroughly and about 95% of the information currently out there has to do with financial planning advice.
Having a great life after retirement is not just about having enough money saved up.
Like most anything worthwhile in life, it takes hard work, clarity and dedication to make your life after retirement look like what you imagined… beyond the money issue.
How to close the gap
There are critical lifestyle planning steps that you can take in order to achieve your ideal life during your next chapters.
I don’t see these topics as being readily available when someone is researching “retirement advice,” which is why I’ve gathered these 19 life after retirement tips for you to start implementing today.
Life After Retirement Tip #1: Improve your daily routine
A common habit among the most successful people is their daily routine, more specifically, their morning routine. There are killer tips from people like Mel Robbins, Tony Robbins, Tim Ferriss and Chase Jarvis. Check these out:
- Mel Robbins – Don’t sleep next to your phone. Let your mind wander while you brush your teeth and ask yourself what 2 things you can do that day to make progress. Write those things down on a post-it and be sure to accomplish it during the day. Give yourself 30 minutes before 7:30am to focus on activities for you and only you.
- Tony Robbins – Start with a breathing exercise. Express gratitude. Visualize connection in your body and then success. Exercise.
- Tim Ferriss – Meditate for 20 minutes. Drink strong tea. Journal for 10 minutes. Eat a small breakfast and then exercise.
- Chase Jarvis – Be sure to get enough sleep, as in eight hours. Drink water. Meditate. Practice and visualize gratitude. Eat a healthy breakfast and exercise.
The main takeaway is to clear out some time each day to allow yourself to focus on your inner self that allows you to live with intention. You need to allow your core values to come to life in your everyday reality, instead of just dreaming about it, thinking about it and worse… procrastinating on taking action.
By having a morning routine, things that are important and meaningful to you – things that help you make progress in life – will incrementally in micro-moments each day come into fruition. The process of focusing on what matters to you will become easier each day, require less painful begrudging action energy, and over time will become automatic.
Warning: if you decide to do nothing, or if you continue to do what’s easy, you run the risk of:
- Being reactive and allowing your days to run you
- Living a life without intention
- Not being in control of your destiny and letting your goals slip by
- Waking up one day and wondering what happened to the last decade
Life After Retirement Tip #2: Keep a gratitude journal
I personally like to include writing in a gratitude journal as part of my morning routine. There’s something remarkable that happens when we consistently and intentionally practice gratitude.
It’s one of the quickest most effective ways that I’ve experienced in rewiring my brain to be happy and productive. Don’t just take my word for it though; I’ve picked up the practice from other inspiring public figures who preach its results.
Here’s one of my faves from Vanessa Van Edwards, lead investigator at the Science of People, a human behavior research lab and author of Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People – her happiness hack is to replace your traffic jam or red light road rage with gratitude time. These micro moments of being thankful on a regular basis will become a habit and help you rewire your brain to be happier.
I recommend writing in your gratitude journal all the little and large things that you’re thankful for every. single. day. If you’re not seeing positive results after two weeks and even more dramatic results after that (with compounding effects over time), please share with us… your brain must be an anomaly.
Life After Retirement Tip #3: Plan out your goals
And be serious about it. There’s so much that impact you can make by planning. Not only will you be more committed to carrying out your goals if you take the time to write them down in a roadmap form, but you will also experience the power of the micro-moment if you know how to do it right.
According to Peter Voogd, the most successful people spend 60-90 hours of planning per year. And these are entrepreneurs who are not yet retired, at the peak of their busy-ness levels, focusing on profit producing activities.
Imagine if you dedicated what breaks down to be an average of 1.4 hours of weekly planning during your retirement, without a full-time gig, where you have the freedom and liberty to really take ownership of what you want to focus on.
A plan should answer at minimum:
- What’s your current situation?
- What’s your ideal situation?
- How do you get there?
The more specific your roadmap the better. If you can keep up with a weekly plan and write in specific micro-goals that align with your bigger picture progress and values, you’ll likely carry out your days with intention and purpose.
Life After Retirement Tip #4: Find clarity
This process is so crucial. Most retirees won’t have an immediate play-by-play action plan to carry out, and instead are more likely to experience a serious identity crisis. Typically, you’ll complete your main full-time career and then experience a honeymoon period, which lasts less than about a year.
According to a Lifespan Developmental Psychology course I took on the psychological effects of retirement, you can expect these stages during retirement:
- Honeymoon stage – your freedom from work and a life of duty is liberating, new and exciting.
- Disenchantment stage – you feel worn out and try to fill your free time aimlessly with activities, recommendations from friends and family, but aren’t really fulfilled deep down.
- Reorientation stage – you drop the activities you thought you were going to like but didn’t actually enjoy and realize you need to reevaluate your life and figure out what’s best. This is where most people are just realizing finding clarity might be a good thing.
- Stability stage – you fully accept your retirement identity and fall into a routine.
It’s important that by the time you reach the stability stage, you accept an identity that truly aligns with your core values. Otherwise, you’re more susceptible to depression and isolation, and likely to miss out on your real purpose, goals and dreams.
What if you were to find clarity before these typical retirement stages?
You’d likely beat out the classic retirement cycle above and avoid living out a life of mediocrity in your later years.
It’s paramount that you spend some time self-reflecting to have a clear vision of the life you want for your next chapters. This is no easy feat, much easier said than done, and will take real dedication to actively listening from within to find that clarity.
There are a number of questions to ask yourself when digging deep to find clarity. Here are some essential ones that I share with our members:
The key is to uncover things that matter to you, so you won’t waste time and energy on short-term interests, but instead find true passions that will keep your attention and fulfillment for the long-term.
Life After Retirement Tip #5: Take control by taking action
Sure, there are so many things out of our hands that we can’t control; yet there are so many things that we actually can. Oftentimes by not acting on something, we’re actually making a decision to hesitate or procrastinate, which is something completely in our control.
In retirement, it’s common to fall into a trap of procrastination, lack of motivation or being in your head. With all that newfound time on your hands, it’s easy to think you have all the time in the world to conquer the activities and goals on your list.
Unfortunately, most of us end up failing to even try and blame a number of things that are actually in our control.
Here are two mind shifts that work for me and our members:
Mel Robbins believes that “motivation is garbage” and has dedicated her life’s work to promoting her “5 Second Rule” which is a super simple yet very effective way to close the gap between taking action and thinking about it. Call it procrastination, hesitation, fear or helplessness… the main thing about overcoming this place of being stuck in your head is to trick your brain into making a conscious decision. Then you act fast.
Another way to look at taking action is a mindset called the Decision Train, something I learned from Peter Voogd and practice everyday. You basically forget about your emotions, and start with your decisions. Then you take immediate action on that decision and feel amazing afterwards.
Bonus Tip: By taking action, you’re increasing your confidence, which is one of the most important skills to acquire that’ll help you reach your goals. Every time you take an action and experience a desired result, you boost your confidence and are more willing to try again. What a fantastic cycle.
Life After Retirement Tip #6: Let go of your grudges
We’ve all got baggage and emotional crap that holds us back. Once you become self aware and learn to come to terms with your regrets, fears, anger and toxic relationships you can move on and really focus on your clear vision.
Broken record: it’s not easy, but it is simple to do.
Accept, acknowledge and allow yourself to feel the pains from your past negative situations… but then literally set a date and time to fully commit to moving past it.
When working diligently and intentionally toward your goals and dreams, you need to have a mindset that’s clear of self-doubt and limiting beliefs so you can be fully present in everything that you do from here on out.
Life After Retirement Tip #7: Focus on growth
Without personal growth, you won’t reach your fullest potential. According to World Minded:
“Personal growth is the ongoing process of understanding and developing oneself in order to achieve one’s fullest potential. Personal development is a vital part in a person’s growth, maturity, success and happiness. It is the foundation of emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual health.”
One of the most influential public figures in personal growth and author of The Code of the Extraordinary Mind, Vishen Lakhiani, founded the Mindvalley Academy, which is dedicated to the idea of transforming humankind through personal growth. He believes that three most important factors contribute to someone’s fulfillment in life:
The next four tips are also ways to contribute to your personal growth.
Life After Retirement Tip #8: Add something new to your life
Get out of your comfort zone and try something new. That’s where all the good stuff happens.
Most of us, especially baby boomers, spend our lives dedicated to duty and forget how to let our inner child out. Find people who like games and participate in light-hearted communal activities.
Don’t like games? Give it a whirl to be sure.
You could just be used to the habit of neglecting your inner child and may have spent decades training yourself to be serious and to worry. It might be worth letting that go, allowing yourself to be uncomfortable and work through the awkwardness of trying something foreign, even if it’s as silly as playing a game of golf, cards, softball, board games or bowling.
As long as you focus on aligning every new activity with your list of core values, you may find some surprising outcomes.
Here’s an inspiring quote from Lao Tzu to get you started on new experiences:
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
Life After Retirement Tip #9: Go back to school
There are numerous classes both physically and online that can help you expand your mind, meet new people, and help you reach your life goals. Being an eternal student can help you always improve your skill set, stay relevant and contribute to your life’s purpose.
According to The ABA Journal, five habits of the eternal student that learns a new language:
- Avoiding procrastination – by learning a bit everyday, the eternal student is likely to build a core habit of becoming a learn-it-all vs. a know-it-all.
- Having a routine – when you build education into your daily routine learning something new becomes way less daunting and overbearing.
- Staying motivated – you’ll keep the momentum of action going and your confidence growing by getting in the habit of learning something meaningful everyday.
- Going all in – practice makes perfect. When you become obsessed with learning something new you’re more likely to master the topic.
- Being curious – by exploring the various formats that personally work best for you (i.e. visual vs. audio) you’ll land on a method that keeps you learning the most.
Life After Retirement Tip #10: Immerse yourself in culture
Similar to adding something new to your life, immersing yourself in culture can stimulate the core values in your life from an entirely different angle. Traveling is a popular way to do this and can open windows of experiences on how entire civilizations value life.
When you immerse yourself in culture, you not only come to educate yourself on historical aspects that will teach you new and profound things but you also gift yourself experiences that create amazing memories and relationships.
Life After Retirement Tip #11: Spend time on your hobbies and pastimes
While this is one of the most common solutions to filling your time in life after retirement, make sure you spending time on hobbies that will help you grow. Watching television and tons of movies doesn’t count and of course can lead to a sedentary unhealthy life.
Get physical. Challenge your brain. Think creatively.
Bonus Tip: Get in touch with your musical side.
Coming from a musician who’s played violin since I was 10, I fully understand that playing an instrument isn’t for everyone. However, I also understand that musical memory is the last part of your brain that Alzheimer’s touches. I also know that when you’re playing an instrument, your brain activity behaves like a full-body brain workout with long-term positive effects.
If not learning or playing a musical instrument, consider watching live music. It can be way more energizing than listening to a recording. Plus, it’s a social event.
There’s so much power and many additional benefits behind the universal language of music simply because of the impact on the brain. Scientists discovered that music stimulates more parts of the brain than any other human function. It can also help patients with neurological deficits – like if you had a stroke, music therapies can help bring your verbal functions back.
Life After Retirement Tip #12: Focus on your health
It goes without saying that taking care of your health should be a priority in retirement if you want to be able to enjoy your life for longer. Yet many retirees won’t take better care of themselves.
According to a 7 Misconceptions About Retired Life article, most retirees don’t take care of themselves like they say they will.
Exercise, join a gym, replace inactive time for active time, eat nutritiously and keep up with your health adherence. Be sure to include in your weekly goal planning designated health-related activities and topics.
Orly Lazarov, PhD, found from her Alzheimer’s Association New Investigator Research Grant that physical and mental stimulation appear to decrease hallmark Alzheimer’s pathologies and support new nerve cell growth and better cell-to-cell communication.
Physical and mental stimulation can mean many things to different people and of course customization is key to making what works best for you. In retirement, you should also come to terms with your limitations and remember listen to your body as well as your mind. Pay close attention so you don’t overexert yourself.
Life After Retirement Tip #13: Consider part-time work
Whether your goals include kickstarting an entrepreneurial side hustle, volunteering, consulting or teaching, part-time work can have its benefits. It can contribute to your sense of purpose and feeling needed, which is where a lot of your fulfillment will come from.
Working because you want to vs. because you have to will present a totally different experience. Plus, with all your wisdom and expertise, if you land a gig that will appreciate your background, the value you contribute can be so impactful.
Some resources to finding a part-time gig that suits you:
- Encore.org – tied to the nonprofit world, their mission is to build a movement to tap the skills and experience of retirees to improve communities and the world.
- Empowered Careers – a nine-month to one-year certification program offered by UCLA Extension that helps boomers reinvent themselves in the workforce; tuition under $6k.
- SCORE – a non-profit that pairs mentors with small businesses to benefit both parties
- Senior Corps: The U.S. government’s main service engine for older adults includes Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), Foster Grandparents, Senior Companions and others.
Better yet, once you have your exact vision clearly in mind, you can go directly to the source in making that job come to life vs. searching the wide net of job seeker site.
Looking for a volunteer opportunity?
Life After Retirement Tip #14: Work out your financial plans
Of course I won’t go into the nitty gritty of how to financially plan during next chapters, because not only am I not a Certified Financial Planner, but the majority of retirement advice is financial advice.
However, I will say that from my experience marketing in the financial industry specifically to retirees – to make sure you won’t outlive your money you can work with a professional financial advisor who:
- Is a fiduciary advisor – this means working independently with your best interest in mind and not getting a kickback from the investment groups to sell you products
- Looks at your financial life holistically – this means incorporating the following five elements into your financial plan: investments, insurance, tax, estate and retirement
- Understands that taxes will be the biggest expense in retirement – this means having a strategy that shows you why, where and when you should pull money to fund your retirement, as it relates to taxes
- Integrates your financial life into your lifestyle and works to protect your core values
Life After Retirement Tip #15: Be social
There are plenty of reasons to nurture meaningful relationships and immerse yourself in your community during retirement. Here are a few:
It’s healthy –
- A number of studies indicate that maintaining strong social connections and keeping mentally active as we age might lower the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s.
- Few social ties means double the risk of dying from heart disease.
You’ll have a support system – Being part of a community and having people who care about you can mean a lot when it comes time to depend on others. This can be as simple as driving you to the doctor or borrowing a book. Plus, the rule of reciprocity will kick in and you’ll want to give back, which we’ll learn in Life After Retirement Tip #16 is healthy, too.
Relationships are now on your terms – No longer forced to be in certain business relationships, now is the time when you can keep up with old friends, find new friends among your interest groups and activities, and nurture familial ties.
The key ingredient here will be to be super choosy about who you let into your inner circle of influence. Be proactive by letting in only people who align with your core values into your circle of influence.
Leave more room for those that align with your circle of influence and less room for misaligned people in your circle of concern.
Your circle of concern is where all the crap, drama and meaningless stuff happens that keeps you away from your goals, so steer clear of socializing with people who don’t align with your core values.
Life after retirement is your sacred time to live on your own terms, so associate with the people who will lift you up and energize you. The only way to do that is to hang around like-minded friends who share similar values.
Reminder: You become like the people you spend the most time with.
Life After Retirement Tip #16: Find a way to give back
There are so many studies that support the idea that giving back is good for you. Volunteering, teaching, donating and sharing can all contribute to your happiness.
Here’s some more evidence for you:
- In 2013, a huge review of 40 studies on the effect of volunteering on general health and happiness was published in the journal BMC Public Health. The results? Volunteering not only improves well-being and life satisfaction, but it’s also linked with decreased depression and a lower risk of dying early.
- According to a UnitedHealth Group survey, of the people who volunteered at some point throughout the year, 76% felt physically healthier, 94% said volunteering improves their mood, and 78% felt less stressed.
- Author or Why Good Things Happen to Good People, Stephen Post, reports that giving to others has been shown to increase health benefits in people with chronic illness, including HIV, multiple sclerosis and heart problems.
- A 1999 study led by Doug Oman of the University of California, Berkeley, found that elderly people who volunteered for two or more organizations were 44% less likely to die over a five-year period than were non-volunteers, even after controlling for their age, exercise habits, general health, and negative health habits like smoking.
- Another study asked participants to spend $5 on themselves or $5 on someone else. Those who spent money on other people vs themselves were measurably happier.
- Those who provided practical help to friends, relatives or neighbors, or gave emotional support to their spouses, had a lower risk of dying over a 5-year period than those who didn’t.
- When you give to another person, oxytocin hormone is released, lowering your stress and making you feel more connected to others.
- A dose of oxytocin will cause people to give more generously and to feel more empathy towards others – a side effect that can last up to two hours. This is why a single act of kindness, even if simply witnessed, can inspire more acts of generosity and paying it forward.
I could go on and on citing more examples of studies. The benefits of giving back are pretty clearly backed up. Once you actually do it and experience the benefits yourself, you’ll likely want to help others feel good and encourage them to also giving back.
Bonus Tip: Knock out two tips at once and turn your altruism into something social. By connecting with like-minded people you’ll be able to nurture meaningful relationships and encourage each other to continue to contribute time and energy to positive causes.
Life After Retirement Tip #17: Balance your leisure time
With all this serious action driving you towards your dreams and goals, don’t forget to balance out your leisure time and celebrate your small wins. When you plan out your weekly schedule, include some time to congratulate yourself on the progress that you’ve made.
According to a How To Celebrate Small Wins To Achieve Big Goals article:
“Our brains need reinforcement so allowing yourself to be rewarded will develop an ‘addiction to progress’ that will cause your brain to want to carry on to the next steps.”
So get in the good habit of balancing out your leisurely time and appreciating what you’ve done. This goes hand in hand with Life After Retirement Tip #2: Keep a gratitude journal.
Too little or too much leisure time can rock your goal planning of course, so be sure to check in regularly with how it all works into your overall roadmap, which brings us to the next tip.
Life After Retirement Tip #18: Track your progress
By regularly checking in on your progress against your goals you can monitor not only how far you are from reaching your goals, but you can also keep track of what’s been working and hasn’t.
- What’s been driving the bulk of my results?
- What have I been doing to make progress?
- What’s been holding me back?
Double down on the efforts, skills and activities that work for you and lay off the stuff that’s distracting you and simply adding noise.
Tracking your progress also allows you to constantly reflect on your goals and your roadmap to success. You can be nimble with your tactics as you continue to grow your confidence and develop yourself.
Bonus Tip: read your vision daily and make it a part of your morning routine. This will help you keep your clarity and also stay focused on reaching your ideal state.
Life After Retirement Tip #19: Be yourself
This goes for all stages of life, but especially during life after retirement. If you haven’t been able to express yourself fully and haven’t been 100% you throughout your whole life and career, when the heck can you be yourself?
I mean look at how unabashedly liberated you can look at 102 just by being comfortable in your own skin, flaws and all:
Is your life after retirement what you thought it would be?
If yes, please share with us what tips have worked for you in driving the best results. Our movement thrives off of inspiring real-life stories.
If no, imagine where you want to be during your next chapters.
Which of these tips can you implement right away?
Want the eBook version? Download your free copy: 19 Tips for an Amazing Retirement Life.
Apply to become a member of the Second Wind Movement to better reach your goals and live your next chapters with intention and purpose. You’ll be able to increase your center of influence with the right like-minded people who can energize you and contribute to a much-needed cultural shift of respecting badass seniors who are making an impact.