Success in retirement as well as success in life is due mainly to attitude, the ability to accept responsibility, knowing that life is seldom fair and not expecting it to be, finding a vocation that allows you to grow and to be true to yourself and your convictions. There are others, of course, but since each person is born with their own peculiar set of potentials, each life lived and each retirement will be different.
Yet, having written the above, the whole process seems as if a desirable retirement will just naturally follow one’s life style up to the point of retirement. It won’t. What if one hated their work and can’t wait to be home free? What if one has no money to travel to all the places one planned on visiting once they were free from a nine to five job? What if one can’t stand being alone for hour upon hour during the day? What if one is ill and can look forward to pain and suffering?
Hear this: While it’s necessary to start planning for your retirement as soon after you’ve paid off your children’s school bills, don’t expect to follow your plans line for line. (Meaning, of course, you’re methodical and must have everything in order and each item in your retirement itinerary carefully checked off.) Life isn’t like that and by retirement, you most likely will have reconsidered your original plans. The reason for that is that you are now more mature and have narrowed your choices down to less than five prerequisites.
The first one is keeping busy. By the time you retire you have learned a lot about life and now see the whole picture clearly. It was necessary, while younger, to make elaborate plans, desire to see all the magical places the world offers, go back to the family farm and live off the land, revisit your grandmother’s old country community, go back to school, etc. But at age seventy, the new requirement age most people will be facing, you are simply tired and just want to rest.
Take a nice long vacation and let your mind wander. Draw up a new plan but even here don’t underline anything; just decide to let the rest of your life happen. Don’t feel as though you are bound to do anything, at least during this vacation, and let your mind wander. It may surprise you how refreshing and how hopeful your new life that’s now starting will become.
Keeping busy at what?
You keep busy doing what you love to do most. If you have always wanted to write, then write. If you don’t know how, then learn. Or maybe you want to see more of your grandchildren, or just spend time with your spouse, garden, learn to play the guitar, donate time to your church, volunteer at the hospital, become a foster parent.
Don’t allow confusion to cloud your picture. Always have pencil and paper handy and create long lists of things you want to do. Then write about it until you tire of thinking about it and then quit. The next day, or the next week, read it over and make alterations. Maybe by this time, you’ve thought of something else. But whatever, don’t lock yourself into only a few ‘have-to-dos,’ unless of course you have to do them.
Ifs make a big difference in the way people keep busy after retirement. If they have the money, they can do a lot of things, if they are in good health, their choices increase, if they have family responsibilities — grandchildren needing supervision, a sick spouse, etc., then they must do what they must do.
Finally, face the fact that requirement for a successful retirement has much to do with attitude, how well you can take each day as it comes and do the best of your ability to live up to what you know your Creator expects of you. You were not merely a happenstance; you were created to find your place in the world and leave it knowing you contributed something. Greet each day as if it is a rare thing, as it is, and do whatever it is you are doing to the best of your ability.