After enjoying a long and successful career, raising a happy family and being blessed with continuing good health, planning how to spend your retirement is an exciting prospect. Those high-stress pursuits of extended working hours, ferrying the kids around and running a busy household can all be put behind you as you set your own timetable and enjoy a gentler pace of life. Like many Brits approaching their pension points, you have no doubt been furiously planning and saving for your financial security throughout your entire working life.
Of course, a solid nest egg is an important part of a happy retirement but how much thought have you given to what else you can do to make your golden years the most content of your life? Here are our top five secrets to a happy retirement.
1. Plan ahead
It's sensible to sit down and take stock of your financial affairs around five years before you retire. As well as your pension, you'll need to think about how to pay off your mortgage if you have one. It's a good idea to run through a retirement checklist like this one to get an idea of what you want to do with your time and whether you will have the means to achieve all of your retirement goals.
2. Brain train!
We're not talking about taking up Mandarin or doing a course in Astrophysics, but when you retire and no longer have the intellectual pursuits of your work to interest you, it's important to keep your mind active: use it or lose it! Consider joining a book club, either locally or online, where you can meet once a month to discuss what you have read. Lifelong learning is becoming increasingly popular with retired people and there are centres springing up all over the UK. Here you can boost your confidence and learn to play an instrument or discuss topics such as culture and philosophy.
3. Develop a hobby and meet new friends
Those who are happiest in retirement are those with a close-knit network of friends and family. Leaving work can be daunting as you often leave behind a thriving social life and the company of firm friends. Endeavour, then, to get out and meet new people when you retire. Find a new hobby or develop an existing one: think "knit and natter" type craft groups, rambling, baking, singing or church-related groups. Meetup.com is a great site for finding local people and groups with similar interests.
4. Enjoy your grandchildren
Your grandchildren are one of life's greatest treasures! Enjoy them; they will keep you young and show you what life's pleasures are all about. As grandparents, your role is to inject fun and spoil your little, or not so little, people on a regular basis. It's all about trips to the seaside, baking sessions in your kitchen and getting outdoors. There are some lovely ideas here.
5. Enjoy life's little pleasures
Mindfulness teaches us to slow down and appreciate the here and now. Retirement is the perfect time for this so ensure you do enjoy life's little pleasures as often as you can. Sit in the garden with your cup of tea and listen to the birds sing, and enjoy bracing walks and indulgent afternoon teas. Immerse yourself in your favourite music at every opportunity and take time to enjoy the food you cook and eat. Retirement is an exciting time and these are just a few of our happy retirement secrets. Do plan the holidays, the cruises and the pursuits you've been planning for years but don't spend so much time planning that you forget to enjoy living!
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