simple steps to a happy retirementIn my business, I talk extensively about the financial aspects of planning for retirement. But financial independence is only one piece of the big picture. Your financial advisor can help you get that piece solidly in place. The rest of the picture is up to you.

Taking these simple steps to a happy retirement can help you make the most of your golden years.

Explore new interests and activities before you retire. For many people, work is a central part of their identity (I’m a nurse. I’m a business executive. I’m an electrician.).  Discovering new parts of your identity can help provide a new sense of purpose and avoid a sense of loss. Explore volunteer interests or part-time work you can continue after retirement. My father-in-law began a private investigation company after he retired from the FBI. The new activity was interesting and the work made him feel productive.

Create a satisfying daily routine after retirement. Once the “honeymoon” phase of not working wears off, many people get bored in retirement. It’s important to take time to experiment and find a new daily routine that you find enjoyable and that keeps you mentally and physically active.

Keep mentally active and try new things. Keeping mentally sharp helps your overall well-being. Easy everyday activities might be crossword puzzles, sudoku, cards games and reading. You can also gain new knowledge by taking a community college class (either in person or online). My mother took a community college choir class for many years after she retired. It was something she really enjoyed, gave structure to her week, and helped form an important new friend group.

Stay physically active. Regular exercise helps boost the immune system, reduce stress, lower blood pressure, strengthen heart health, and improve sleep. Even something as simple as a daily walk can have significant health benefits.

Remain connected to family and friends. People who are isolated and lonely are at greater risk for dementia and shorter lives. Connecting with your family and friends provides an important sense of closeness and community. Arrange regular get-togethers (i.e. weekly coffee klatch, daily walk with friends, weekend dinner with your parents or children). When you can’t see others in person, meet up with video chat.

For more simple steps to a happy retirement, check out this article from AARP, 10 Secrets of a Happy Retirement.