3 Ways to Make Sure Your Retirement Isn’t Boring

22062878 - cute senior african couple portrait at homeHere’s how to turn your second act into the start of something big.

Fewer than than half of retirees say they are having a very enjoyable retirement, according to a recent research brief on retirement satisfaction from the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Which is a shame, considering how diligently many of us save and plan for our post-career lives. Fortunately, there are ways you can improve your odds of having a more rewarding retirement, especially if you’re willing to be creative, resourceful and a bit adventurous. Here are three:

1. Think big, act bold. When news broke last year of the theft of upwards of $300 million of jewels and gold from the Hatton Gardens safe deposit facility in London’s diamond district, experts assumed that the physically demanding heist must have been pulled off by a team of extremely fit burglars. But it turned out that what’s been described as the largest burglary in English legal history was actually the last hurrah of a group of mostly retirement-age crooks, some well into their 60s and 70s.

I’m not suggesting that anyone plan anything for retirement that could end with a stint in the slammer. But criminality aside, the example of these career criminals attempting such an ambitious caper at an age where most people believe their biggest achievements are behind them shows that hitting retirement age doesn’t necessarily mean scaling back one’s aspirations. Indeed, when Allianz Life asked 3,000 adults as part of its Gift of Time study how they viewed the extra years afforded by today’s longer lifespans, 49% said the increased longevity “could open a lot of new and interesting possibilities for people’s lives.”

I couldn’t agree more. Retirement can, and ideally should, be a time to aim for new goals and accomplishments, whether that means pursuing a passion or activity you always dreamed about but never got around to doing (writing a book, starting a blog, creating an app, learning to play a musical instrument, whatever) or finding new ways to employ the skills you developed during your career (such as helping those who’ve been less fortunate than you, in which case, you may want to check out options and resources at Encore.org). The point, though, is that just because you’re retired doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still think big, take chances and even be a bit audacious.

2. Make new friends, reconnect with old. Research shows that retirees who have a solid circle of friends are much more likely to say they’re happy with their lives. Unfortunately, forging new relationships can be more of a challenge after leaving the work-a-day world. But it can be done. Volunteering at local charitable organizations, taking a part-time job, joining groups that get together to pursue a common interest (dancing, hiking, historical preservation, whatever) and enrolling for classes at a local college are all excellent ways to meet new people and broaden your social network.

But while you’re forging new connections, be sure to maintain relationships with older friends, the people with whom you shared formative experiences in earlier stages of your life and who knew you before you became the person you are today.

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