How to Survive Retirement
Live Life Like You Are On A Mission!
Retirement is for the rest of your life. Be purposeful. Be far-sighted.
Retirement happens to most people in the Western world. At the end of a working life, the average person enters an entirely new phase of living. Hopefully those decades of toil are rewarded with a period of happiness and contentment which will last for many years.
The secret of a successful retirement is to regard it as simply a change of direction. Think of it as a new start. A chance to live life as your own master.
Retirement is just another challenge. A new beginning with endless possibilities. An opportunity to do many of the things you had no time for when you were at work.
Happiness in retirement is a state of mind. I write here of my own personal experience as someone who has already been retired for over 20 years, and would like to pass on my thoughts on how to make a success of coping with the onset of old age.
Updated February 2019
Some Basic Ground Rules
For coping with advancing years in retirement.
The most important attribute for living in retirement is Happiness. If you are not happy then little else matters. Give yourself a good talking to. Count your blessings. Enjoy what you have, however little that seems.
Be positive. Always look on the bright side. Every cloud has a silver lining. If and when things go wrong, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.
Believe in yourself. You may or may not have a religious faith, but self-belief can overcome many obstacles. Tell yourself constantly that you "can". . . Stop using the word "can't".
Have goals in abundance. Make lists of things you want to do. Be realistic but stretch your imagination. They say "It's never too late to learn". Whatever your circumstances, however you feel on the day, have many more self-imposed jobs to do than you can possibly cope with. That way you'll never get finished, and you'll always have a reason to get up in the morning, and the next day ... and the next!
Have a Number of Hobbies.
If you can count your hobbies on less than the fingers of one hand, you maybe don't have enough. . . Hobbies, that is, NOT fingers!
Look at the picture above. All that junk is mine! I collected together just a few iconic items to represent only some of my hobbies and interests. I even surprised myself with this little exercise and there are many things I do for leisure, which are totally unrepresented.
I have to admit that, at the age of 80, I now struggle a bit with some physical activities like racket sports and I gave up regular squash and badminton 3 years ago.
Happiness Rules! OK!
Happiness: The Single Most Important Thing in Life. And YOU'RE in Charge!
Make no mistake. Your mission, in your life of retirement, is to be happy. Nothing else matters. Strive for what you want but be content with what you get.
Happiness is a state of mind. "Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Cry, and you cry alone!" Happy people are those who genuinely try to make others happy.
How can you make other people happy? The answer is, you can't always, but at least you can try. Smile! I don't mean leer at every stranger you pass in the street, I mean be outgoing, greet people you meet as though you are really pleased to see them. Show interest. Look them in the eye and show you are listening to what they have to say. Offer a few words of praise or encouragement. Try not to burden others with your own troubles, should you have any.
The other person's happiness level is increased by knowing someone cares about them. This happiness radiates back to you in the knowledge that in some small way you have made their day a little better. Banish any feeling of smugness about this. Be happy that this is just the way you are and move on.
If asked how you are yourself, reply, "I'm absolutely wonderful thank you!" DO NOT under any circumstances look sad and say something like,"Not too bad really." or "Bearing up under the strain." or, even worse, "Fed up to the back teeth with this life ... !"
Everyone has their own cross to bear. However kind they are, they have enough problems of their own. They really don't need to hear about yours. We are all getting older by the day, some are luckier than others, some wear better than others, some get sick while others stay healthy. Only one thing is certain. We all eventually die. Get over it! But make the most of what you have left while you can.
Accept Old Age. It's Inevitable.
You Can't Halt the March of Time. But You Can Keep in Step!
I can't talk about this subject without using words like "old" and"age". What matters is the way you react to those words.
Young people are proud to reach the age of 10, 18, 21, etc., why should we "senior citizens" not have similar feelings as we progress through our 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond. Why not see age in later years as an achievement.
OLD can mean: wise, experienced, stories to tell, interesting, helpful
OLD does not necessarily mean: past it, grumpy, mean, miserable, useless, on the scrapheap
With each passing year, we "old" people undoubtedly notice a decline, however slight, in our faculties. Our sight and hearing may not be quite as good as it once was. Our youthful good looks no longer turn heads as perhaps they once did. Strength and dexterity can not be counted on so much for lifting furniture, opening jam jars, threading needles etc. Our memories seem to become short-circuited as we find more and more often that we simply can't dredge up facts that we know we know, or at least think we knew once.
This gradual, at first almost imperceptible, erosion of what we used to be is frustrating but inevitable. It's what growing old is all about. What you MUST NOT do is throw in the towel. It is NOT the end of life as we know it. Learn to adapt to the change. Take more care. Be more deliberate about your movements. Use science instead of brute force. Take a little extra time. Try your hardest but don't struggle stubbornly with something you can no longer do and then get annoyed with yourself. Ask for help. Then laugh about what an old duffer you've become, but DON'T be embarrassed. Convince yourself you are still pretty good for your age.
Don't Give in to the Aging Process
Keep control! It's YOUR Mind and Body!
Keep your mind active. Challenge yourself to try to remember stuff. If you forget the name of someone or something, don't simply accept that you are going doolally with old age. Ask for help, puzzle it out, look it up somewhere. Repeat the name over and over and vow not to forget it again.
Read lots of non-fiction. Never stop learning facts. You may never need to use the knowledge you gain, but how do you know that now?
Do quizzes, play word games, do crossword puzzles and sudoku, use mental arithmetic and pencil and paper rather than get out a calculator. I frequently recite the "times tables" I learned as a child just to reinforce my memory of them, and occasionally I mentally double numbers starting from 1 to see how far I can go. Try it ... 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, ... and so on.
These mental manoeuvres are ideal for keeping the old grey matter in trim, and can even send you to sleep when you go to bed at night.
Keep your body fit too. "Eat less, move more!" is a great maxim to live by as the years and pounds pile on. Just as you polish your car and keep it roadworthy to make it last, treat your body the same way. It's the only one you'll ever have! Unless, of course, you believe in reincarnation, but that's a bit of a long shot, Grasshopper!.
Keep your weight down within reason. Why cart a whole barrow load of useless fat around with you everywhere you go. Whatever exercise you do, push yourself a little harder each time. "No pain, no gain!" is as true of walking the dog as it is of training for the Olympics.
Don't give up sport just because you're "getting on a bit" and you get the occasional twinge, find a way of coping with it. Even if you don't always come out on top, if you ever did, play for the fresh air, exercise and companionship it offers. Maybe slow down a bit, but never give up.