“Freedom,” “enjoyment,” and “stress-free” are the top three words that workers associate with the word “retirement.” And it’s no wonder. Traveling (58%), enjoying time with family and friends (53%), and engaging in hobbies (46%) are the top dreams of many workers, many of whom hope to spend at least 25 years in retirement.1
Create your retirement bucket list
Retirement is not the end — but the beginning.
To make the most of your retirement, be sure to create a plan, set goals, and make a bucket list to stay motivated and engaged for the next phase of your life. Remember, to be able to cross off the things on your list will take commitment — and time. But the sense of satisfaction you’ll get will be worth it.
Here are some ideas to get you started planning for your golden years.
If you’re a new retiree, celebrate your retirement with a fun trip. If you’re a baby boomer, it’s likely you’re already retired or semi-retired. And this group loves to travel, with the majority planning at least one annual domestic getaway — in fact, they average four to five trips a year. And 53% plan to embark on an international trip, notes an AARP survey.2
Travel is a luxury — whether you go domestically or internationally — so make sure you plan for it. That means socking away savings in a separate travel fund five to 10 years before you plan to retire, ideally, and thinking about how many trips you’d like to take each year. You also might want to take into account getting trip and international health insurance when the time comes.3
Now on to the fun stuff. Where do you want to travel? If you hope to visit someplace like Australia or Africa, do that earlier in your retirement years since you’ll need the energy and stamina for long flights, travel days, and (ahem) delays. The same goes for if you want to go mountain climbing in the Swiss Alps or downhill skiing in the Rocky Mountains. Plan more active trips early on.
Do you have a goal of visiting all 50 states? Road trips to the lower 48 could be a fun way to experience them. One retiree decided to see all 48 of them in 48 days. By the end of the trip, he’d racked up 12,000 miles, with his longest day amounting to 600 miles.4 Of course, you might want to take more time to smell the roses, as they say. And experience a quintessential activity in each state: nosh on a deep-dish Chicago pizza in Illinois and hike the Grand Canyon in Arizona. With each state you visit, place a pin next to it on a map. Soon you will have filled it up.
Certainly there are places near your own home that you’ve wanted to see. Maybe there’s an arboretum, a zoo, a park, or a music venue that would tap your sense of exploration — if only for a day.
But there’s nothing like hopping on a plane — and racking up those travel miles — for your next adventure. With 25% of those in the 65 and older crowd traveling outside the United States every year, the world is catering to their travel needs. For example, as an incentive for travelers who want to savor their international trip, many vacation rental companies are offering monthly discounts for extended bookings. According to Airbnb, the 60 and older crowd is its fastest-growing demographic.3
If you want some company on your travels, consider traveling with a tour group. There are types that cater to all different groups and interests. Love to bird watch? Book a trip with other likeminded travelers to Florida, Maine, or Costa Rica to see their feathered residents. Colleges and universities offer trips for exploring interesting destinations and cultures to alumni who’d enjoy the camaraderie of other travelers.
Stay in shape
Keeping physically active will enable you to better enjoy your retirement. To keep motivated, find what you enjoy — whether it’s to walk, hike, ski, swim, do yoga, bike, play pickleball, or golf.
Many of these activities will not only keep your body engaged, but your mind as well. One reason is because you’re socializing with other people while having fun. And you can gain a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
One fan of golf says that the sport checks four important boxes; it’s social, measurable, challenging, and routine. And even a simple daily walking routine has many benefits. Almost everyone can do it, it has definable health benefits, and if you walk in your own neighborhood, you get to know the people who live there better.5
Explore your hobbies
Once you retire you’ll have more time and freedom to delve into your hobby (or hobbies). Maybe you like to read, paint, make jewelry, or build birdhouses. Now you can do so with gusto.
And don’t be afraid to take up a new hobby. The book Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning by Tom Vanderbilt cites many benefits of getting out of your comfort zone to explore new areas of interest, be it chess or surfing.
And if you fail, consider it to be your first attempt in learning. The book’s author quotes a legal scholar as saying, “For to permit yourself to do only that which you are good at is to be trapped in a cage whose bars are not steel but self-judgment.”
Now is the time to explore other areas of your being without being an overly critical boss. The days of having a demanding boss should be long gone by now.
You can even turn your hobby into a money-making venture. Start an online shop where you can sell your wares.
Build and connect with friends
Our emotional health suffers when we isolate ourselves. We saw that firsthand during the early days of the pandemic. Conversely, having a wide circle of friends can improve our psychological well-being, brain health, and even the length of our lives.6
Now is the time to focus on your friendships. During your working years, you might have had time to socialize only on the weekend. Now you can plan lunch dates and excursions with your friends all week long.
If you feel like you could use more friends, there’s plenty of ways to get them. One idea is to enroll in a class where you can meet people who have similar interests as you. If you’ve always wanted a dog, you should get one. You’ll have a loyal companion and he or she will surely introduce you to other people and their furry companions on your walks.
As we get older, we’re prone to put on the pounds. In fact, a third of people who are 65 years and older are obese. So, it’s important to be cognizant of our diets. Many older adults will benefit from taking in 1,800 calories a day from a balanced diet that supports your muscles, bones, and heart. Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fish, skinless poultry, and nuts and beans are all healthy food choices.7
Tip: Make it your hobby to grow your own fresh herbs and vegetables.
Other things to keep in mind: Foods rich in vitamin B12 can boost memory; antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation; and vitamin D assists in your body’s ability to use calcium.7
Following a Mediterranean diet is a good brain booster — especially for women. A study showed that a group a women who ate a lot of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats (i.e., olive oil) had fewer beta-amyloid deposits in their brains, which can lead to Alzheimer’s.8
Have fun cooking up new recipes and see how you grow. Writer Laura Esquivel famously said: “I watch cooking change the cook, just as it transforms the food.”
And if you want a break from the kitchen, go on a tour of some tried-and-true and new restaurants in your area.
Volunteer in your community
Communities are in need of volunteers. Animal shelters, meal-delivery programs, and tutoring are just a few of the opportunities available. Find what gives you meaning and then find a reputable organization you’d like to work with.
Tip: Go online and look for a site that lists volunteer opportunities.
It turns out that giving back is good for your health and well-being. A recent study of nearly 13,000 retirees who volunteered for a minimum of 100 hours per year for four years were at a reduced risk for mortality and physical limitations and felt more optimistic and purposeful.9
Create a plan
However you plan to live out your retirement, take the time now to map out a plan for the next phase of your life. You’ll want to keep it realistic and within budget.
Here’s to living a long and healthy life post-career, one that flourishes well after you stop going into the office.
This is a general communication for informational and educational purposes. The information is not designed, or intended, to be applicable to any person’s individual circumstances. It should not be considered investment advice, nor does it constitute a recommendation that anyone engage in (or refrain from) a particular course of action. If you are seeking investment advice or recommendations, please contact your financial professional.
1. “Emerging From the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Retirement Outlook of the Workforce, 22nd Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey,” transamericainstitute.org, June 2022.
2. Doherty, Patricia. “15 Trips You Need to Take as Soon as You Retire,” travelandleisure.com, November 25, 2022.
3. Tigar, Lindsay. “How to Travel the World After You Retire,” realsimple.com, August 20, 2022.
4. Williams, Nate. “48 States in 48 Days,” magazine.northeast.aaa, May 25, 2021.
5. O’Connell, Brian. “8 Great Hobbies in Retirement,” money.usnews.com, September 20, 2022.
6. Ianzito, Christina. “How to Make New Friends After a Move,” aarp.org.
7. Donovan, John. “Foods for a Strong Heart, Brain, and Bones,” webmd.com, April 27, 2022.
8. Levine, Hallie. “How Menopause Messes With Your Brain,” aarp.org, November 19, 2021.
9. Lagemann, Jennifer. “11 Meaningful Ways Older Adults Can Volunteer Right Now,” forbes.com, September 30, 2022.