When I made the decision to retire, it sort of just happened. One year I realised I had enough put away to enjoy a comfortable life without a constant income and within six months I was free of employment! I felt excited, I felt a little liberated and I was proud of my working career.
But one year into retirement my health started to fall, I began to feel a little isolated, I lost my purpose and I wasn’t in the best financial position I could have been. Why? It was because I didn’t plan properly.
Retirement is one of the biggest lifestyle changes that we experience and because of that, we need to prepare well for the change. Below are five things that I wish I had done to better prepare for retirement. I hope that sharing them with you can help you to have a smooth, happy and healthy transition!
I wish I had joined a few different social groups…
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After years of working as a nurse I was very accustomed to talking with lots of people every day. While I had friends and family, that constant human interaction stopped rather rapidly when I retired and I missed it hugely. It began to make me feel isolated and for a long time I didn’t have any other interaction. Eventually I wound up the courage to join a regular art class and a Probus club. Joining these social groups meant that I could meet other likeminded people and I had a way of interacting with others every day. Even though we look forward to the idea of not having to speak to people every day, it is something that hugely impacts our wellbeing.
I wish I had thought about my finances seriously and put together a long-term plan…
I knew I had enough money to retire quite comfortably with. However, I hadn’t planned properly and budgeted for exactly how I was going to spend it. For a long time I was in limbo, not properly knowing what my financial limitations were. It wasn’t until a friend suggested that we do a “bucket list” holiday and visit our place of heritage (Ireland) that I decided to sit down with a financial planner and work out exactly how much fun I could afford. If I had done this in the beginning it would have saved me a fair amount of stress and I would have had a clearer picture about what I can and can’t do!
I wish I had committed to regular group exercise…
Without realising it, work was giving me a good dose of exercise every day! Between walking around the hospital, moving patients and walking to and from the bus every day I was getting quite a workout. When I retired, I didn’t realise for quite a while but that made a significant impact on my health. I began to put on weight, I felt lethargic and I had limited aerobics capacity. About six months ago I joined a women’s only gym and I participate in pump, pilates and spin classes with other women. It is great! It’s another social activity and it’s keeping me healthy. I wish I had planned for this earlier!
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I wish I had found somewhere meaningful to spend time and give back…
After around 50 years of work, your job starts to empower and fulfil you. When I retired I suddenly realised that I had no purpose. I didn’t have something that gave me a reason for getting up every day. I no longer felt like I was contributing to the world. I actually had a tough time mentally dealing with this and began to become withdrawn and without a lot of confidence – who was I to the world if I didn’t have a purpose or a way of making it a better place? A friend suggested that I begin volunteering at an aged care facility and so I did. This gave me a sense of purpose again. I felt like I was achieving something, giving back to the community and doing something for the greater good. It has helped me to find happiness again.
I wish I had celebrated it!
My retirement came around, I stopped work and that was it! I didn’t mark the occasion, I didn’t give myself a reward and I didn’t really celebrate it at all. I completely wish I had. If I could do it again I would have a party, go on a holiday or treat myself to something special! Not to be flashy or over the top, but to be proud of what I’d achieved. I think it’s something we should all do!
So those are the things that I wish I had done to plan for retirement. They seem a little petty, but they really do make a big difference to your happiness and health!
Tell me, do you have any regrets from retiring? What is something you had wished you did to prepare? Share your thoughts in the comments below…