Some Assets You Need for Retirement Are Not About Money
7 Elements for a Happy and Healthy Retirement You May Not Know You’re Missing
Retirement planning is a long game, possibly even one you’ve been planning and saving for since the day you received your first piggy bank. You’ve likely straightened out all your retirement assets like your 401(k)s, IRAs, property, and maybe you’ve even sold your business. You may be financially secure in retiring, but many retirees will tell you — that’s not the whole story.
There are several assets you’ll want for your retirement that are nowhere to be found in your financial portfolio. These are elements to a happy and healthy retirement that you can’t put a price tag on. Below we’ll discuss seven essential assets that money can’t buy (and the last one may truly surprise you)!
Good health is, perhaps, your greatest asset at any point in life, and certainly in retirement. You’ll not only feel better, but you’ll also have the ability and energy to enjoy a more active lifestyle once you leave the working world behind. It’s no secret that eating healthy and exercising leads to a stronger immune system, better sleep, and a better mood. The current recommendation for those 65 and older is to get approximately thirty minutes of exercise per day.
One of the beautiful things about the human body is how adaptive and regenerative it is. This means that it is never too late to begin the journey of healthy living. The National Institute on Aging is a great place to get started on your journey to health. Of course, you shouldn't wait for retirement to be healthy. Healthy living is like retirement savings; the sooner you begin, the greater the payoff in the long run.
2. Social Connections
Boosting your happiness in retirement can be as easy as following your hobbies and staying in touch with friends and family. It is important to stay connected to your social network once you enter retirement, and making new social connections is helpful, too. Studies have linked isolation with increased rates of stroke, heart disease, and dementia. Being socially active is just another aspect of leading a healthy lifestyle, similar to a good diet and exercise.
Retirement may mean changing your living situation, potentially taking you farther away from your loved ones. In our current digital age, this distance between us has become less of a hurdle. Emails, texts, phone calls, video calls, and virtual chats are all ways to stay in touch with your community from afar. You can connect through watch parties for film and television, and even online platforms to play board games. The trick is to discover what works best for you so that you can remain socially engaged.
SEE ALSO: Is Early Retirement a Good Idea?
One of the hardest parts of retirement is navigating the transition from work to leisure. The secret may be to rethink what leisure means to you. It may come as a shock, but 3 in 4 Americans plan on working into their retirement simply because they want to. Having a purpose is an asset that will keep you from stagnation. The freedom of retirement is the perfect opportunity to pursue work or hobbies you’ve always wanted to but didn’t have the time or financial stability for, but working in some capacity can be useful, too.
Volunteering is another wonderful and purposeful activity. It allows you to stay active, social, and make a change in your community. Contributing to a cause you believe in can make all the difference toward happiness in your retirement. Visit volunteermatch.org to find opportunities in your area.
4. A Strong Mind
If the word “health” only makes you think of your physical body, it’s time to remember that your mind needs workouts to remain healthy, too. The best way to exercise your brain is to constantly learn and challenge yourself cognitively. There are very good indicators that this may help lower your chances of cognitive decline and dementia. Keeping your synapses firing and stimulated is the key, according to research.
Learning is one of the best ways to stay mentally active. Choose something that excites you — consider learning an instrument, a new skill, or take some continuing education classes. Retirement is the perfect time to go back to school. For a more social approach, you can join a book club, attend group cooking classes, or whatever interests you.
Another retirement asset you can’t put a price on is an optimistic outlook. The Boston University School of Medicine has found that the life-expectancy of optimists tends to be 11%–15% longer than for pessimists. There is a common misconception that optimists are wearing rose-colored glasses. However, optimism is a matter of how you cope with a situation, not how you perceive it.
Over time, you can train your brain to think more optimistically. Focusing on what is in your control to change versus what is not is a great place to start. Surrounding yourself with other optimistic thinkers is also very helpful in making this mindset shift. Once you do, you’re likely to notice lower anxiety and increased energy. Optimism walks hand-in-hand with the next asset on our list, too— gratitude.
Think of gratitude as the asset that can help hold all the other assets together. There are many benefits to practicing gratitude; it can foster an optimistic outlook, improve your physical and mental health, and strengthen your social relationships. There are even studies that show it can increase empathy and decrease aggression.
Gratitude, much like optimism, is a skill that can be learned. You can nurture this skill by keeping a gratitude journal. Every night, write down all the things that you are grateful for. Start with a small list, and over time create a larger list, say ten items. Be sure to make a varied list, including smaller victories as well as larger goals that you achieved that day.
7. Your Dog
Believe it or not, being a dog person can improve your quality of life. Studies have shown that older dog guardians tend to get more exercise walking their dogs and tend to be much less sedentary. One study even showed how caring for a dog can increase your life span and decrease cognitive decline.
If owning a dog is too large of a commitment, you can also consider fostering or volunteering. Foster programs allow you to care for a dog for shorter time spans, from several days to several months. Being able to provide a safe home for many furry friends over the years will feed your purpose, positive outlook, and gratitude. You can get these same benefits by volunteering as a dog walker or groomer at your local Humane Society, too.
It’s Time to Reconsider Some of Your Retirement ‘Assets’
When most people think of retirement planning, the assets that come to mind are of a financial nature – and there’s no doubt that these are important for your desired retirement lifestyle. However, a happy and fulfilling retirement requires more than just the assets in your portfolio. Retirement is a major life step and having the seven elements above will help you thrive. These life assets will increase your health and happiness and make the retirement you’ve been planning that much sweeter.
If you’d like professional guidance on planning the retirement of your dreams, please reach out to us today! At Charles Carroll, we are committed to providing personalized financial planning advice based on your unique goals and aspirations.