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Make the Next Chapter the Best Chapter

Fulfillment and purpose in retirement doesn't always come easy. It takes effort.


(Editor’s note: This content is sponsored by Acts Retirement-Life Communities.)

Retirement brings freedom. Are you doing everything you can to get the most out of this chapter in your life? Here are five truths that retirees should know to in order to make the next chapter the best.

Escaping from the daily grind of a decades-long career can be exhilarating, but you may be surprised to learn that for many retirees, the honeymoon period of retirement bliss doesn’t last all that long. Once the initial joy has worn off, many are left wondering how to fill their time or how they can recapture a sense of purpose.

Writing Your Next Chapter Your Way

Retirement doesn’t have to leave you feeling bored or directionless. Here are five tips for getting the most out of retirement:

1. A retirement plan is much more than a financial plan.
Everyone should have a financial plan in place to support their lifestyle after they retire. For some, that means arranging investments to receive a steady income during retirement. For others, it’s a part-time job. For many, it’s both.

If you don’t have a financial plan or you want to update your existing plan, read this article on the best ways for retirees to plan for the future.

Whatever the status of your finances may be when you retire, know that money is only part of the equation for a happy retirement. It’s definitely the foundation, of course, but having enough money only paints a partial picture. You need to take a more holistic approach to living in order to feel happy and fulfilled well into your retirement years.

2. It helps to have goals.
What does retirement look like to you? You might not have to live by many set rules, but creating a fulfilling life does require thought and some prep work.

Having goals will help you set guideposts for your retirement journey. Working toward milestones contributes to a sense of fulfillment during retirement, just as it did before you retired.

Whether it’s a second home in a quaint, western ski town or the big, bountiful vegetable garden you’ve always dreamed of planting, or learning a new language, it doesn’t matter what your goals are as long as they’re yours and that reaching them makes you feel fulfilled.

When setting goals, ask yourself: “What do I need to retire comfortably, and what does comfortably mean to me?” This answer is different for everyone. Read this article to learn about options you should be considering, what it means to be married vs. single and what a comfortable retirement income looks like for you.

3. It’s important to look after yourself.
Regardless of how deeply you embraced a healthy lifestyle when you were younger, it’s now time to focus and get serious about healthy aging. Nobody can turn back the hands of time, but there are lots of things you can do to age to the best of your ability.

Staying fit is chief among them. Joining a gym is a great way to not only stay active but to make friends as well. Fitness is defined in so many ways, too. It can mean a walk every evening after dinner, or it can mean regular tennis matches at a club.

Looking for ways to get in shape without overexerting yourself? Read these 14 fitness tips from a retirement community fitness director.

Eating well is another component of healthy aging that really makes a difference. Make it extra useful with a cooking class — you’ll not only learn new skills but perhaps make some new friends while you’re at it.

4. Put effort into keeping your calendar full.
If there’s one truth that seems to matter more than many of others, it’s that feeling lonely is absolutely the worst way to spend retirement. Researchers now know that isolation has a very negative impact on health. Read this article on the benefits of socializing for older adults.

Losing your work-related social network is only the first hurdle to overcome. Staying social will take effort, especially as you get older.

This tip is perhaps even more essential for men. A 2016 survey pointed to evidence that women are much better at filling their days with activities than men.

That same survey revealed that women are more likely to continue socializing with friends and family than men. They are also more apt to continue to be caregivers and to volunteer their time by giving back to the community. As for men, the survey said you’ll find them working or engaging in sports.

That could mean men have more trouble finding meaning and purpose in retirement. Men tend to look at this chapter as a reward and pursue leisure activities rather than activities that offer a sense of fulfillment (like caregiving and volunteering). The key is to make sure it’s a productive blend.

5. Allow time for exploration.
Don’t worry if at first you’re struggling to fill your days. It takes time to put together the right mix of activities. Remember: You’re trying to create a lifestyle that reflects your true self. It’s quite different from bending yourself around a career and/or a family schedule.

This is new territory, so give yourself time to try different things.

Recognize the difference between pursuing meaningful activities and merely filling your time. This isn’t easy, as evidence by the new crop of life-transition coaches who specialize in helping retirees find purpose and meaning.

With these helpful truths in mind, it’s time to start putting together the life you’ve always wanted to live.

By Acts Retirement-Life Communities

Acts Retirement-Life Communities is the largest not-for-profit owner, operator and developer of continuing care retirement communities in the United States. Headquartered in suburban Philadelphia, Acts has a family of 23 retirement communities that serve approximately 8,500 residents and employ 6,200 in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Florida. For more information about Acts visit actsretirement.org.

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