Having worked out how to improve your relationships and sorted out how to rebuild your social support system what other things must you do to ensure your retirement years are the best years of your life? To a large extent that depends on what you really want to do with your life. So the first step is to take out a piece of paper and write down the things you would want to do if your doctor told you that you only have two more years to live. The idea is to focus on whatever matters to you. The other thing is that in retirement your health can change in an instant so you need to know what things are important and what things are not important.
One thing I had on my short list when I first retired was to revisit an old fascination with computers. So I decided to write some software for the iPhone. So I downloaded a free course on this are from Stanford University and watched each lecture a few times so I could understand what the lecturer was talking about. Eventually I designed a calculator but sine there are probably thousands of these things on the market, I gave up before I ever got the clear button to work correctly!
Now I can’t imagine too many of you will follow my interest in this area. But after you have worked out the general areas of interest to you, you need to pursue that line of knowledge. If you look online you can find many courses online that are free. Begin by Googling “Moocs” and following the links. You could find a course on ancient history, or philosophy, or art or health issues or anything. But work out what you are curious about first and find as much informational you can. And by the way, you can shield yourself from misinformation by using Google Scholar to look for written articles on the subject you are looking at. You can Google that too!
Add A Little Money
I also need to say that you should add finance to your short list of subjects you need to know about. Try to find as much as you can about how the pensions system in Australia works (assuming you live here). Work out how superannuation works, the risks involved in property investments, share investments and cash – especially in this low interest environment. It’s worth the trouble. You owe it to yourself to try to understand as much as you can so that you don’t get ripped off. And I suppose I should tell you again to stop worrying about running out of money. If you retire with $200,000 (half the average amount) in your super account between you and your spouse, you will be fine. After all you will get $35,000 per year from the pension then if you allocate $10,000 per year for the next 20 years from your super you will have a total income of $45,000 per year to live on. I can say from experience thats enough to live on and enjoy life. You may need to drive the same car for 10 years but you can easily get by on that amount. After you turn 80 you will not need so much to live on unless you are in better health than most of us since the average bloke dies at 80!! Someone said “Don’t let your money outlast you”. I think thats good advice.
Health Issues as you age
The other thing you must do is take steps to look after your health. I mentioned this briefly last time but its easy in retirement to let your fitness slip. I purchased a bike when I retired but then joined a gym so I didn’t use it much. But now I use the bike a bit more than I ever had. I just ride around the block here but my plan is to get fitter then go one longer rides. Theres plenty of quiet roads to ride on a round here so traffic is not much of an excuse. You can join a group if you need some company – there’s one group of old blokes near me who ride a few kilometres every Friday then stop for breakfast at a cafe before riding back. Sounds like a great way to get fit and enjoy the company of other men.
But you don’t have to buy a bike. A set of running shoes will cost you as little as $30 and that’s all you need to go jogging or walking. There are also a number of parks here on the Gold Coast with exercise equipment. So you just turn up and go for it. So please include in your list of must do “find a way to get fit”. The truth is your health is pretty important so doing something to stay fit will do you the world of good. My doctor told me recently before I had an unexpected serious operation that I had to get fit because it speeds up healing. So get fit today – you never know when you’ll need to be fit.
Finally you need to find out why you are on earth. What did God have in mind when he decided you would be who you are. Why did he give you the skills and abilities you have? Why did He give you the personality you have? Why did He let you have all those experiences in your life? This is a big deal in retirement because you will have time to do things and the worst things you can do are things that have no meaning and simply fill in time before you die. So investigate your purpose on earth. You could look for the “Purpose Driven Life” book as a starting point because that helps put your life into perspective.