A survey conducted by the Retirement Lifestyle Center in the US asked a group of retirees and pre-retirees what they believed to be the key to retirement happiness. Interestingly, the participants who had already begun their retirement gave very different answers to those participants who were contemplating retirement.
An overwhelming 75% of pre-retirees said that having enough money to enjoy their lives was the most important aspect of a successful retirement. This would give a good insight into the priorities and behaviour of pre-retirees who would arrange their financial plan around having sufficient funds for their retirement.
Barry Lavalley, president of the Retirement Lifestyle Center and author of So You Think You Are Ready to Retire says that pre-retirees tend to link happiness with the act of retirement itself.
“Once they discover that retirement was not a destination rather than a transition, they must change their expectations of happiness to fit their daily lives,” Lavalley says in his book.
“Reframing the concept of retirement in this way can not only make the transition easier but also can help avoid the crash of unfulfilled expectations.”
For those who had already launched into retirement, money was not even the second most important element of their new lives.
Most retirees placed good health as the most important quality, followed by “nurturing and supportive relationships” and “fulfilling activities.”
Money was ranked fourth on the list.
Clearly once the reality of the retirement lifestyle hits, quality of life is not related to how much money you have, but how you can make the most of every day to ensure life is fulfilling and enjoyable.
Studies conducted at the University of Pennsylvania into the role of positive psychology in the pursuit of happiness, identified five key elements that contribute to overall happiness.
These elements – positive emotion; engagement; relationships; meaning; and achievement – can be summed up with the acronym PERMA. Many people, whether they realize it or not, achieve some of these elements through their working life, as they build relationships with co-workers, engage with their work and achieve their goals, leading to positive emotion and a sense of meaning.
Once they retire, this source of happiness has been removed and they need to rebuild their life to incorporate these elements again. New sources of fulfilment can be found by nurturing existing relationships, building new friendships through shared interests and making a meaningful contribution to the community.
If your retirement plan consists only of a goal to save a certain amount, start thinking about other aspects of your post-working lifestyle.
How will you find meaning and purpose once you retire?
Start planning ahead. Your retirement can prove to be an exciting and enriching time!