On average, most people will be retired for over 20 years. That’s a long time! Think back to the first 20 years of your life: what did they look like? They were probably filled with school, friends, first loves, and new careers. Many people think of their 20s as a time of growth, change, excitement, and freedom.
Why not look at the 20+ years you’ll spend in retirement in the same way?
Health is a critical component to a happy, well-rounded retirement. When you’re ill, or your health is suffering, you aren’t able to fully enjoy this time period of your life that you’ve worked so hard for. Of course, health carries a myriad of meanings and healthy to one person may look different than healthy to another. But whatever your threshold may be, I want to emphasize the effect your health has on your retirement, and how prioritizing it now (and throughout your years as a retiree) will make you even happier and more fulfilled.
As the famous saying goes: money can’t buy happiness.
Happiness doesn’t come from how much savings you’ve built up in your portfolio. It comes from spending time, money, and resources on the things that hold value and meaning to you. Happiness comes from being able to fully engage with life - whether that’s by spending time with family, enjoying your hobbies, or pursuing goals that align with your values.
Happiness is a byproduct of good, healthy, and fruitful priorities. Your health in retirement should be one of them. I like to look at health with a two-pronged approach:
Each of these aspects plays a vital role in your overall health. Let’s take a look at the easiest (or, at least, most tangible) part of your health to master - your physical wellbeing.
When you feel good, you are able to enjoy your experiences more. I know that being physically healthy isn’t always easy, but it’s something that will impact your ability to do the things you love, and provide more opportunities during retirement.
You don’t have to aspire to become a bodybuilder or a marathon runner in retirement to be healthy, but it’s important to establish a healthy routine of eating well and exercising. By exercising regularly, you are showing your body love by keeping it strong and functioning.
Exercise also helps you feel happier and more motivated to take on your day. It can also expose you to new people. Many people love going to workout classes at the same time each week because they often see and are able to interact with the same people. Exercise can be another way to form a community which is imperative to new retirees.
Here are some ways you can stay physically active in retirement:
It doesn’t necessarily matter what you do - as long as you’re moving and making an effort to do something!
Your physical wellbeing is only one piece of the puzzle, another is your mental health. This is often more challenging to maintain than your physical health, because mental wellbeing often isn’t as clear-cut as staying in shape, or eating well.
Retirement is a huge transition, one of the biggest ones you’ll have in your adult life. The life and career you have spent your days building will take a new form and morph into something seemingly unrecognizable.
I talk with people about this a lot and many of them express that they want to retire, but they are nervous about the change. It’s ok to be nervous. It’s ok to be excited. It’s ok to feel a combination of emotions!
I encourage you to allow yourself to express each one and be honest about which has the strongest pull. When you focus on how you’re feeling, and how you can take care of yourself mentally and emotionally, you’re able to fully engage in life during retirement.
Your mental health and how you are feeling about your new life in retirement matters, and being open about that will help you adjust your retirement plan and make changes when necessary. Always be willing to change your plan, or your lifestyle if things aren’t working, or if you’re not as fulfilled as you thought you’d be with the lifestyle you laid out for you and your spouse or partner.
There are many things to consider when you enter retirement. It’s an overwhelming experience filled with many changes and challenges. Even though saving up enough money is a huge priority, I challenge you to put your health on an equal playing field.
Your mental and physical wellbeing are important. They will help chart the course for your happiness in retirement. Take time to prioritize your health and make your 20+ years in retirement the best ones yet.
Wood Smith Advisors, a woman-owned Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), is a fee-only financial services firm that partners with its clients to simplify their financial lives. We focus on women, entrepreneurs and individuals with complex financial situations, providing objective and competent advice, education and services to help them develop and build their businesses and reach their financial goals. We can be reached by clicking here.
"Finance Made Simple" blog posts are intended for educational purposes and not for specific advice. Each person’s situation is different. Consult your financial advisor for advice relating to topics discussed.