By Cynthia Meyer, Founder of Second Wind Movement
Ever wonder what all the hype is about in life after retirement?
We’ve been trained to think it’s this amazing finish line to cross (which it is)… but why is it that the typical honeymoon period lasts only about a year after retiring and most retirees experience an identity crisis?
Not only that… check out these alarming stats:
- 1 in 7 baby boomers is treated for depression, higher than any other American adult generation (source)
- Divorces among baby boomers are increasing and have doubled since the 1990s (source)
- 72% of pre-retirees aged over 50 want to work in retirement (source)
Are we afraid to retire or just totally unprepared? What’s going on?
When I researched “retirement advice” the results that showed were nearly all financial-related. I feel we need to better prepare our senior generation for a fulfilling life after retirement, which is why I’ve gathered these seven tips that you can start implementing today:
TIP #1: Plan out your goals
There’s something about writing down your goals and then mapping them out that will make you more serious about achieving them. You should answer at the minimum:
- What’s your current situation?
- What’s your ideal life after retirement look like?
- What’s getting in your way?
The more specific you are with your roadmap, the better your outcome will be. An effective and popular goal planning tactic is SMART goal setting.
- Specific – have a very clear and simple goal
- Measurable – be sure you can gauge progress
- Achievable – be realistic and make it something attainable
- Relevant – is it important to you and does it fit into your bigger vision?
- Timely – when’s your celebration date for accomplishing your goal?
Giving yourself a due date and envisioning a specific outcome will help to keep you accountable and on track.
TIP #2: Self-reflect and find clarity
Without this step, you may be missing the boat with your goals. After living what may be a life of duty and heavy responsibility, it’s important to take the time and energy needed to really listen in and figure out what’s most important to you. Otherwise, you may run the risk of having deathbed regrets or not fully reach your potential. The earlier you can start this process, the better.
Figuring out your core values and how to align your life with those core values is not an easy task. Like most things important in life, this process takes time.
Here are some questions that you can ask yourself to help gain clarity:
TIP #3: Take action first
It’s easy to be so ingrained in the daily habits that we often operate on autopilot. This can be dangerous because our cognitive abilities are likely to decline if we don’t exercise our prefrontal cortex, the decision-making part of our brain.
To help you reach your goals in retirement, you need to try things that are different, sometimes scary, and out of your comfort zone. This isn’t going to make you feel like taking action, so you need to trick your brain into acting first and feeling last. (Hint: you will feel amazing after you act).
Mel Robbins has dedicated her life’s work to this concept and sums it up in her “5 Second Rule”:
By counting backwards, you awaken the prefrontal cortex and are triggered to immediately act. – source
TIP #4: Leave your past behind
When we enter next chapters, it’s important to let go of past baggage and grudges. In order to be fully present and grateful for the current here-and-now, your past life needs to be truly a thing of the past.
This will help you with finding your clarity and focus on life after retirement, and can really help you live life on your terms (after a life of duty).
Bonus Tip: Keep a gratitude journal to remind you of all the things to be thankful for and write in it daily. This is a tried and true way to rewire your brain to help you live peacefully and in the present.
TIP #5: Learn something new
Focusing on personal growth can be key to life after retirement. In addition to the many social, mental and emotional benefits, you can also boost your brain health as an Alzheimer’s prevention activity.
The NIH ACTIVE study followed senior participants aged over 65 who were prone to cognitive decline. Those that received as few as 10 mental training sessions saw long-lasting improvements in cognitive functioning in daily activities 10 years later.
Bonus Tip: Learn a musical instrument. This is my personal favourite. When you play a musical instrument it’s the equivalent of a full-brain workout because of the simultaneous usage of cognitive tasks. It’s also a great way to stay creative.
When you learn something new and exciting, not only will you be stimulating your brain, but you’ll likely meet new people and enhance your circle of influence, which brings us to our next tip.
TIP #6: Stay connected
There are numerous studies that show being socially connected and stimulated is key to slowing cognitive decline.
Orly Lazarov, Ph.D. found that social connectedness and physical activity decreases hallmark Alzheimer’s disease pathologies. He discovered that physical and mental stimulation actually increases the activity of nerve cells in your brain and spurs new nerve cell growth.
Not only that, but loneliness and isolation are very scary things and super detrimental to your health.
Loneliness and social isolation have been found to increase your risk of death by 50%. This is deadlier than obesity, which increases your risk of death by 30%.
TIP #7: Prioritize your health
According to a 7 Misconceptions About Retired Life article, what people say they’re going to do is so different from what they actually do in reality, when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle in retirement.
Don’t be like the majority.
Instead, be cognizant of falling into the trap of being stuck in a bad habit or waiting until you feel like committing to a healthy and active lifestyle. Retirement is a great time to finally focus on your health and long-term well-being, now that you have the opportunity to reclaim your long life of duty.
Exercise, join a gym, replace inactive time for active time, eat nutritiously and keep up with your healthcare adherence.
What’s your life after retirement look like? Take this survey to tell us about your experience so we can better serve you! For more useful resources, check out Second Wind Movement
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