5 ways to get the best out of your 8000 retirement days

Grandfather watching tv alone

Image: olly2/Bigstock.com

8000 days? If you retired at 65 years, 8000 days takes you to the age of 87. Some of us will make it. Some won’t. But we’ll all have a say in what the number of days we have will look like.

I began to think about this when I came across Molly Nilsson’s ‘8000 days’ song with its lines:

Every day is just like the rest
The worst and the best
As the days pass, the first to the last
Every day is just like the rest

On YouTube, Nilsson looks like she’s only arrived at the end of her first 8000 days. Yet her song gives the impression that life has been colourless: ‘Every day is just like the rest’.

Is that what your 8000 retirement days will look like? Feel like?

I hope not. That sounds too dull.

Here are five ways to get the best out of your retirement days.

1. Have a plan 

Life doesn’t end when you retire. A bonus is that you’ll probably have more freedom than at any other time in your adult life. Of course, you can plan to relax more. That’s great, but to just relax will make every day ‘just like the rest’.

Think of it this way, 8000 days on the couch watching TV—watching someone else live or act out a life—isn’t really living. What do you want to do? To achieve? How can you do that? What can you imagine a typical, satisfying retirement week to look like? That’s a good way to start a plan.

Add some bucket list ideas and you’re beginning to create something worthwhile. But remember, your plan may need to change as your situation changes.

2. Remember it’s your retirement

There is no ideal retirement that fits all. It’s good to learn from what others have done in their retirement, but don’t try to live their lives. They aren’t you.

For instance, Susan Cain—in her book Quiet—says, ‘Extroverts enjoy the extra bang that comes from meeting new people, skiing slippery slopes, and cranking up the stereo … your typical introvert would rather spend her vacation reading on the beach than partying on a cruise ship.’  We’re all different and our planning and living will show that.

Then, if you’re part of a couple, there will be two of you in your retirement. To be successful that means ‘your’ retirement will have to be ‘our’ retirement at times. That means individual plans and joint plans.

3. Live with passion

That doesn’t have to be a tango-like dance with a rose clenched between your teeth. But, hey, it could be. Living with passion is a combination of loving what you do and doing what you love. It’s about enthusiasm for something—or things—you enjoy doing.

There’s debate currently about whether a passion is something you have or something you develop. Does it matter? Not really. The question is, will you do something you’re passionate about?

4. Recognise what’s important 

Money is important for retirement, but as Donna McCaw, author of It’s Your Time and writer about planning for retirement, notes,  ‘Quality of life is directly related to how well you feel, how much energy you have, how many aches and pains you suffer, your sleep patterns, appetite, sex drive, and immune system.’

She’s talking about health—specifically regular exercise as a good way to increase your health. She writes, ‘Your health is the basement you build on and so it needs to be as solid as possible.’

Money is a priority for retirement, but is it the most important? If you’re feeling flat with no energy, your retirement is limited. Luxury surroundings is no substitute for vibrant health.

5. Live for something bigger than you

Living for something bigger than yourself adds meaning to life. It could be the values you live by. It could be a cause you support. It could be a legacy you want to leave—perhaps through your grandchildren.

A cause bigger than you is something that will outlast and outlive you. In your last 8000 days that’s a great thing to work on.

Life doesn’t end at retirement. There’s the possibility of another 8000 days. Plan to make the most of them.

Bruce Manners, author of Retirement Ready? and Refusing to Retire.

Category: Lifestyle, Planning

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