The Final Ingredient for a Happy Retirement

Okay, so far, we’ve talked about sufficient financial resources, good health and strong personal relationships as being three essential ingredients for a happy retirement.  What’s left?

Drum roll, please…

According to  Viktor Frankl, the key is finding meaning in life.   Some lucky individuals find meaning in their work, and are able to make a living following their bliss.  They aren’t interested in retiring.  And why should they?  How great is it to get paid for doing what you enjoy?  They will continue to “work” for as long as they are able. But this post isn’t about them.  It’s about the rest of us, primarily motivated by the bimonthly love notes that appeared in our bank account via direct deposit, for whom retirement is a welcome change from the 40 to 60 hours we spent toiling away.

If “finding meaning in life” sounds a bit too lofty, how about this?  Let’s call the fourth critical ingredient  “oomph” or “pizzazz” or whatever term you bestow on that special something that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning.

Some embark on a second career, working fewer hours, but because they are doing what they thoroughly enjoy, it doesn’t FEEL like work.  When he retired, my husband started making violins.  Although he has sold a couple, and given away even more, the end product is not the point.  A researcher who loves learning and sharing knowledge with like minded individuals, he’s focused on decoding Stradivari’s secrets and reproducing the sound and appearance of a master violin.

As for ME, my favorite things happen to dovetail nicely with ingredients 2 and 3.  I’m now doing all of the things that I wanted to do during my work life, but rarely had enough time for:  Exercise, book clubs, social events, travel, spending time with my family, Global Volunteer projects (The photo atop this post is from my time in the Cook Islands.  Who could resist those beautiful children?), cooking — the list goes on and on.

My guess is that we all have different “oomph” factors.  What’s important is to start thinking about what your special something is LONG before your last day at work.  How you plan to structure your days during this wonderful stage of life’s journey is almost as important as financial planning.  In fact, the two are directly linked.  If you have expensive habits and desires, then you’d best be building a BIG nest egg.  If you are a minimalist, however, then you don’t need as much.

So, there you have it.  Simple to say, harder to execute–but SO worth the effort.  Happy trails to all you current and future retirees.

Please feel free to share what is working for YOU!


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I am intensely curious, with a spirit of adventure that is tempered by my very strong aversion to anything with potential to cause pain. I love travel, photography, reading, gardening, yoga, music and propelling myself through space (biking, dancing, walking, dancing while walking). I've never considered a lack of proficiency in any of the previous activities to be a hindrance, counting on abundant enthusiasm to make up for my shortcomings.

6 thoughts on “The Final Ingredient for a Happy Retirement”

    1. Thanks so much for your kind comment, Poppy. Although it sounds like a bit of a downer at first, upon reflection it is clear that your motto packs a lot of wisdom. We ARE all traveling on a one way street.
      I’m so glad you are enjoying my posts and really appreciate your letting me know.


  1. I think my favorite part of this post is that you never once mentioned the word “passion.” Before I retired, I kept hearing that I needed to find my passion in order to be successful. I didn’t have one passion then, and I don’t now. Like you, I enjoy many activities and have a lot of interests. Right now, I like to travel, take classes, go to book club, meet with friends, write, explore photography, etc. Who knows, next month or next year it could be something else. The best part is that now I have the time to discover all the “oomphs” that make me happy and fulfilled.


    1. We definitely ar kindred spirits, Janis. You’ve probably figure out that you are one of the virtual pen pals I referenced in the previous post. If we lived in the same town, there is no doubt in my mind that we would be friends. Thanks to blogging, we can at least enjoy each other’s supportive comments.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Just spent some time on your blog, browsing and enjoying, Shelley, after some time away to honor the dying and death of a loved one: a beautiful 99 year old lady who was my mother-in-law and had, like you, many interests that kept her active, lively, interesting, and interested until two weeks before her death. I’ve tried to model my retirement after her old age, which mirrored everything you’ve written in your retirement posts. Thank you for sharing your insights with all of us.


    1. Janet, thanks so much for commenting. I hope you realize that you are also one of my virtual pen pals. How great that we are able to erase the miles and support each other during this time in our lives.
      I’m sorry for the loss of your mother-in-law. No matter how long they live, it is still hard when they go. I guess we can only hope that to be like her as we age.
      I am so grateful for the role models I meet when I travel. I was just looking at the Picasa album of an 85 year old man who climbed to the Tigers Nest in Bhutan at age 79, and parasailed in Nepal at age 84. People like that him (and your mother-in-law) do so much to dispel fear of the aging process!


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