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!