#1: RETIRE TO SOMETHING:
* Leaving your retirement to chance is talking a big risk. Do not expect everything to just fall into place. Be ready for one of the biggest changes in your life. Know you are prepared.
* There seems to be an allure or an attraction about having no schedules, no responsibilities, and no obligation. What this can lead to is a loss of balance and meaning in our lives.
* Use this time to make your dreams come true. This could easily be the longest stage of your life! Live it with passion and abundance!!
#2: STRETCH YOURSELF:
* Stretch and expand yourself in ways you've never done before. There is nothing attractive about being idle.
* Explore your neighborhood in ways you've never done before. Expand this to your town, your state and even the world!
* Read books, go to plays. Learn a language, take a class. Go beyond your past limitations. Seek out activities that bring you pleasure. Try things you never had the wherewith all or the guts to try. Get those creative juices going!
* Don't ever stop learning. People that stop learning can be very boring and who wants to hang around with boring folks? Think of friendships - you now have the time to spend with friends, nurture these relationships...and make new ones. The more varied your friends are the more interesting and thrilling your life can be.
#3: DEVELOP OR ENHANCE HEALTHY HABITS:
* Its has been proven many times that regular exercise keeps us looking and feeling younger. We sleep better. We become sick less often which means less doctors appointments and fewer medical bills.
* It helps enormously to make your exercise fun. Try new activities by yourself or with a friend. What did you like to do years ago? Try it!
* Simply keep moving. Even if you stay active by doing errands, going to social events and visiting family and friends, you are moving. For about $15.00 you can buy yourself a pedometer to count your steps. Each of us should walk 10,000 steps per day. If by the end of the day you haven't done your steps simply take a friend and walk in the moonlight!
* Don't forget to exercise you brain. Read the newspaper, do crossword puzzles, or read a book. While you're doing this thinking, keep it positive. Be an optimist! You'll live longer and be happier and people will just love being around you!
#4: NURTURE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS:
* Your relationship with your spouse may change dramatically if you are used to one or both of you working. Remember the saying: "I married you for better and for worse but not for lunch." This may have too much reality in it!
* Find fun things to do, be patient with each other. Listen more, share more, and help more. Think of all the reasons you married each other in the first place; build on these. Most of all; love each other and be flexible. Flow with the changes. Allow and even encourage each other to grow.
* You may find you now have more time for being with friends. Take advantage of this and try new adventures. Seeking out old friendships is easier than ever with the internet.
* Make new friends and you'll see how your experiences become enhanced at the same time.
* Share yourself, be forgiving of others, and be kind and gentle. The world will become a better place.
#5: LIVE A LIFE OF EMOTIONAL STRENGTH AND OPTIMISM:
* We hear over and over how important it is to take care of our physical health. What we also need to pay as much or more attention to is our emotional health. In a word: or ATTITUDE. It's been proven that centenarians reach that age more so because of how they view and live their life, in spite of less than perfect health.
* Happiness is a choice. Being optimistic is a choice. We don't always have control over events in our lives. What we do have control over is how we respond to them.
* Being a happy, content person is our own responsibility. You may have heard it said that "happiness is an inside job." Believe it! Please do not rely on anyone else to make this happen for you!
* Learn to appreciate what you have and be grateful. Gratitude enriches our lives and leads up down a path to a happier 3rd stage of life.
* We do not need lots amount of money to be content and at peace, but we do need gratitude and appreciation of those things we do have.
#6: LOVE WHERE YOU LIVE:
* Beauty and comfort comes in many shapes and forms. There is no "perfect" except what works for you. Are you attracted to the beach, mountains or desert? Surround yourself with an environment that feeds your soul, which makes you feel alive.
* Do you like the city with lots of activity and culture or do you prefer the solitude of being apart from this? Live in a place that offers you what you need and want. If you're really fortunate, maybe you have 2 homes in different settings!
* Most of us stay where we are or at least close to it. We may stay in our current home or move to something smaller with less care needed as in a patio home, town home or condominium.
* At some point we may need to be in a place where we get the care we need. Hopefully, that can be located near friends and/or family. There are many levels of care depending on our needs.
* Where ever we chose, we need to research it carefully. Be sure it's a place that offers you the comforts and resources that are important to you.
#7: ACHIEVE A STRONG BALANCE IN YOUR FINANCIAL AND LEGAL ARENAS:
* Be very clear about your financial situation. Nothing creates more anxiety than not knowing the status of our money. We must keep in mind that there are many things more important to our happiness than money. That being said, we still need to be able to put a roof over our heads and food on the table. If we plan smartly we can even expect to do more than this.
* This does mean planning ahead; there is no question about that. Over the past years there have been many questions about social security in this country. Whether it will be available to us as baby boomers; or not. To be extra astute we probably need to plan as thought it will NOT be available to us. Then when it is, it will seem like pennies from heaven!
* Keep your legal papers updated and be sure people close to you know how to find them. Be responsible. Let your family know what you desire in case of an emergency. Be knowledgeable about your options in regards to your health. You may desire or need a living will and a legal power of attorney. It's very difficult for loved ones to make judgments about how to handle end of life decisions. We need to make them for ourselves.
#8: LIVE YOUR LIFE USING YOUR FULLEST POTENTIALS:
* Our retirement/renewal experience will be what we choose it to be. If our expectations are that we become looking and feeling old, sitting in our rocker needing continual help from others and basically being dependent and lonely, then that may be exactly what we get.
* Choose to be independent; choose to be happy, free and optimistic in all that crosses your path - people or experiences. You will live a longer, happier and healthier life.
* Choose to be a positive person. See the good in people and the bright side of any given situation.
* Be curious. This is another strength that can keep us young and alive. Its also prevents us from being boring to others and even to ourselves!
* We may have more free time now. We can use this to grow and expand ourselves. Is there something you have always wanted to learn or do? Now's the time! Doing the things we love keeps us engaged in life. Being engaged in life we can live our life to the fullest.
* Along with this is resiliency. Being able to recover from negative experiences that inevitably will occur keeps us on a positive track. Be flexible. Life happens.
#9: DESIGN A PLAN. KEEP A CALENDAR.
* I understand that one of the enticing things about the retirement/renewal stage of our life may be to not have a calendar or day timer, but I strongly suggest that you do.
* We may not want to follow a tight schedule like we may have done pre-retirement but I don't recommend going from all to nothing. If we do, we may be in for a huge surprise. Having nothing to do and nothing planned can backfire on us. It's not uncommon to find ourselves looking into this big void of nothingness - which doesn't work for most of us for very long.
* Prior to leaving our career we may want to make some kind of plan or at least an outline. Don't just assume that everything will simply fall into place. Make a list of things you've always wanted to do but never had the time for. Now is the time! Tennis lessons, golf clinic, watercolors class, anything. Find yourself a partner to join you.
* Make sure you have something to look forward to. Sitting with a good book or fishing all day may be great for awhile but even these delights can get boring and monotonous.
# 10: GET A JOB. VOLUNTEER:
* This may sound crazy. Why would we get a job in retirement? Isn't the whole point of retirement to not work? Well, maybe you only just retire from your long term career type job.
* Is there somewhere you have always wanted to work? Maybe a hardware store or knitting shop? Somewhere where your only responsibility was to show up and enjoy your job? Or maybe you have always wanted to own your own business.
* Who says how many times we can retire? I know people who have retired and then taken up a job for awhile, then retired again. There are no rules. We may work because we need the money or simply for the joy of it. It does get us out of the house, if need be.
* Either way, at this point in our life please try to make it something you have a passion for. Work or volunteer doing what you love. Do something to improve yourself. Something that will make you a better and wiser person.
* * * ENJOY YOUR LIFE.... YOU'VE EARNED IT!!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kim Kirmmse Toth is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice. In addition, she is a Certified Retirement Life Planning Coach who works with baby boomers who are savvy enough to plan ahead for their retirement years.