Introduction

The great gift of retirement is freedom.  The great challenge for most of us is deciding what to do with that freedom.

Many resources are available to help handle financial planning, relationship problems, health issues, making travel arrangements, organizing projects, and time management.  This book addresses the challenges that remain even after you have mastered that list.

Happily Retired provides field-tested pointers for successfully shifting from work to retirement.  We offer:

  • Strategies to help you make the most of these years while avoiding common pitfalls.
  • Ways to apply and balance the three critical components for happiness.
  • Practical ideas for how to bring enjoyment, new people, new experiences, and fulfillment into your life – perhaps in ways you had not previously considered, or just forgotten.
  • Clarification of some of the less obvious and rarely discussed aspects of retirement, including why people are often ambivalent about this wonderful, exciting stage of life.

Our suggestions are based on observation and personal experience, with some research to fill in the gaps where we needed to know more or wanted to confirm our assumptions. We share what works, and what doesn’t.

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Retirement is cause for celebration.  Consider all that you have seen, learned and done during roughly half a century of life. You undoubtedly worked hard, shouldered responsibilities and successfully handled many life challenges. You earned your retirement.  Now you can reap your reward.

Retirement may feel like a leap into the great unknown. Immersed in a busy working life, you may have dreamed of an escape from the less pleasant aspects of work, relief from tension, and endless lazy afternoons.  After the big trip and a few projects, the glow wears off.

Many retirees are surprised to find themselves facing anxiety, boredom and disappointment.  This often happens as they become stuck in the early and inevitably less satisfying phases of retirement.    Some are tempted to pretend that all is well while privately asking, “Is that all there is?” and “What will I do with the next twenty years?”

Role models may be hard to find. These days, new retirees can look forward to decades of vitality.  While a sedentary, restful retirement lifestyle may have been appropriate for our parents’ generation, baby boomers are redefining what it means to be retired.

Retirement requires that you once again – and maybe for the first time in a very long time – take charge of your own life.  It is a fresh opportunity for passion and self-exploration, but you may need some new strategies to create a satisfying life tailored to you.

The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own.  No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on or blame.  The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it.  This is the day your life really begins.

Bob Moawad, author of Whatever It Takes

 

 

What’s Ahead?

Here is an overview of what you will find in the book:

  • What to expect in the early stages of retirement and some common misconceptions.
  • General strategies.  If retirement is going to work for you, you need to first figure out what matters most to you, give yourself permission to experiment, accommodate natural cycles, and fine tune your attitudes.
  • The Happiness Formula developed by researchers in the field of Positive Psychology.  We demystify the three key ingredients of pleasure, engagement and meaning.
  • Ways to bring more pleasure into your life. For many of us simple pleasures are a lost art.
  • Ways to cultivate engagement. Engagement may be pleasurable, but it also involves other factors, such as feeling challenged and connected. We provide many examples of rewarding sources of engagement that fall under the broad and overlapping categories of relationships, paid and unpaid work, learning, and hobbies.
  • Ways for finding meaning. Definitive answers would be suspect, but we hope you will find some of our observations thought provoking and inspiring.

 

Exercise

Throughout the book we have included exercises.  Not all of them will appeal to everyone, but some are bound to work for you.  A particularly useful tool referenced throughout the book is journaling, introduced in Chapter 3.

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Most chapters include a selection of books and other resources that we have found valuable.

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