If you want to make the most of your retirement, say hello to these 8 habits

Retirement: the pinnacle of life!

Oh, how I dreamed about retiring one day – throwing in the towel at work, giving up my 9-5 life, waving goodbye to commuting, and the dreaded 6.30 alarm!

Until I actually retired, because boy was I in for a shock when that day finally came.

Retirement wasn’t all it cracked up to be. It was lonely, isolating, and (if I’m being honest) a little bit boring. OK, you got me – it was a LOT boring!

I know what you’re thinking, “I’ll never feel like that when I finally retire”.

I thought so, too…

But two months in, I decided that things needed to change. I wasn’t going to waste my long-awaited free time feeling bored and glum!

I spoke to everyone I knew and discovered the true pinnacle of retirement: these 8 habits.

Let’s get into it:

1) Wake up (slightly) early

I’ve never been an early bird. Which is exactly why when I retired, I stopped setting an alarm and started waking up whenever I felt like it.

Sometimes, I’d sleep in till noon. Most of the time, I’d at least wake up at midday. But the thing is, this sleep-wake routine really wasn’t good for my health – both mentally and physically!

Experts say it’s important to maintain a somewhat consistent sleep cycle; waking up and going to sleep at around the same time every day.

In my youth, I brushed off these recommendations. To be honest, I did it without even thinking anyway, since I had to maintain some consistency while working full-time. But once I retired, I couldn’t ignore these claims any longer!

Mentally, waking up late really took its toll. I started feeling like I was wasting the days. Physically, I felt drained. Even though I was getting more sleep than I’d ever gotten before, it was too much. And the inconsistency of my cycle meant I felt tired at all hours of the day.

Plus, the beauty of being retired means you can get things done while everyone’s at work! But if all you’re doing is sleeping the day away, rushing around with everyone else to get things done in the evening, you aren’t really utilizing your time properly.

2) Leave the house every day

When I was younger, I made a New Year’s resolution to leave the house every day. In honesty, it changed my life.

Yet it’s something I stopped doing as soon as I retired. Why, I don’t really know. I think the exhaustion of working for so many years just became too much, and all I wanted to do now that I’d stopped work was stop.

But this behavior quickly became one of my biggest mistakes. Staying indoors day in, day out really started to impact my mental health. I started losing track of days, living for the weekend, and just feeling like life was a little meaningless.

When I pulled the plug on this behavior and started doing at least something every day, life completely changed. I actually started enjoying my retirement.

Even if it was just something as simple as mooching about the shops, reading my book in a coffee shop, or going for a quick walk, it made a huge difference to my sense of purpose.

3) Spend your money

Nobody retires before they can afford it. There’s a ton of planning that goes into retirement, I know that.

But even though you know you can afford to live off your retirement funds, money is still a huge worry.

For me, I let these money worries take over. Even though I spent my money, I only spent it on the necessities. And yes, that’s the sensible thing to do. But did it make me happy? Absolutely not.

Retirement isn’t about saving. It’s about living!” – someone said to me at a retirement book club, and she was right.

So I stopped worrying so much and I stopped trying to save. I started spending my hard-earned cash on little treats for myself, and it changed everything.

4) Develop little, manageable routines

Another thing that really helped me in retirement was developing little routines that I knew I could stick to.

I know what you’re thinking, “Why would I want to build a routine when my whole life so far has been one big routine?”.

I get it. But the thing is, having a routine was actually what made life so good. It helps you get things done and feel a sense of achievement in life. It also has a way bigger impact on your mental state than you realize!

Which is why I found that creating a new routine for retirement so beneficial. It wasn’t strict and I could flex things whenever I wanted to. But the sense of purpose it gave me did wonders for my mental state.

pic2061 If you want to make the most of your retirement, say hello to these 8 habits

5) Plan your week in advance

No matter how good of a routine you have, I still recommend making time to plan your week every week!

The thing about retirement is that it’s easy to let it slip away from you – especially if you just do the same things every day. And since your body is aging, you don’t really have as much time as you used to. That’s not me being morbid, it’s just the truth.

Which is why you need to make every week count.

What I found really helpful was to make a little plan every Sunday night about what I wanted to do that week.

It included the “normal” stuff, like wake up between 7-9am and go grocery shopping on Wednesday morning. But it involved other stuff, too. Fun stuff!

Like how I wanted to start my holiday shopping, call a friend, find a new class to go to, or book a date to visit my grandkids.

6) Find a social hobby

I guess I never realized how much of my social life came from my job until I retired. Because payday drinks, Christmas parties, office luncheons, and even daily calls all disappeared in an instant.

Leaving me alone with just my partner and my cat most days… Which wasn’t the best for keeping my relationship alive or my spirits high.

It probably wasn’t good for my cat either, who was very used to her own space!

That’s why the other habit I recommend for retirement is finding a hobby that’s social – something that gets you out of the house and talking to someone other than your cat!

For me, my Thursday afternoon book club became my social thing. And I can’t tell you how much I looked forward to it every week!

Other people I know join classes, attend coffee mornings, get part-time jobs, or volunteer for causes they believe in. All because it keeps them social (and happy!).

7) Seek out “retirement” friends

When you retire, most of your friends or work colleagues won’t retire with you. Which can be a lonely (and scary) realization.

Why? Because your old friends will still be at work during the day. They can still only speak to or meet up with you on evenings and weekends. Leaving you with no one to talk to or see during the day…

Plus, when you retire, you don’t have as much in common with your old friends anymore. Your life is completely different now.

Yes, you can still stay friends. But it’s nice to spend time with people who are experiencing what you’re experiencing, too.

It’s like if you ever had kids. Your childless friends became different to talk to compared to your parent friends. Not bad, just different. And it’s nice to have parent friends as well as your old friends, so you can connect on a different kind of level.

8) Make time for exercise

The final habit I recommend for a truly happy retirement is exercise! Unless you’re extremely lucky, you’re probably retiring at 50+, at least.

As you know, the older you get, the more your body changes. And the more you need to look after it!

Which is why making time to stay fit will be one of the best things you ever do in retirement.

Firstly, it gives you a chance to socialize which, as mentioned earlier, is super important! Secondly, it gives you a routine (again, mentioned earlier and super important!). And lastly, of course, it keeps you healthy.

It keeps your mind alert, your muscles strong, and your spirits high. And honestly, these things make a huge difference in whether you fully enjoy your retirement or not!

Final thoughts

People think retirement is easy, but it really isn’t!

Being left to your own devices is actually quite hard. And what I’ve realized is that you either sink or swim when you’re left to live life however you want

These habits really did change my life. They made my retirement worth retiring for!

Hopefully, if you adopt these habits (and maybe even find more of your own!) you can make your retirement feel just as worth it. Because after working for so long, you truly deserve to find happiness at this point in your life!

Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley, a London-based writer, is passionate about helping others discover the power of self-improvement. Her approach combines everyday wisdom with practical strategies, shaped by her own journey overcoming personal challenges. Eliza's articles resonate with those seeking to navigate life's complexities with grace and strength.

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