Are you someone who PUSHES through life? If so, the odds are in your favor to age well. Most individuals probably wouldn’t think that pushing through life would be conducive to aging well. In fact, when we think of pushing through life, we tend to think of slogging along, day after day in the obligations of our lives.
However, when it is in the context of retirement, the PUSHES are what give our lives meaning and purpose.1 Consider the following:
P – Has a sense of Purpose. The idea of having a purpose in retirement is not contingent on a grandiose plan to invent, create or produce something. It is the overarching sense of having a reason to get out of bed in the morning, having the motivation to make the most of your day. This sense of purpose will certainly evolve over time as your desires and abilities change but it gives meaning to your life.
U- Uses time to participate in activities, helping others, going to events. The pandemic has certainly taught everyone how important it is to be involved in outside activities. Our 2+ year hiatus on “going and doing” has been a struggle for everyone. We benefit from helping others through giving our time, through attending functions with others and by participating in activities we enjoy. Our mental and emotional well-being are impacted greatly when we are active and engaged.
S – Socializes with family and friends. Socialization is a critical component of later life. For those entering retirement, the change in their social groups can be one of the toughest adjustments. We humans are social beings, and therefore finding ways to be engaged with family, friends and with other social groups like faith communities is important. Building a sense of belonging and community with others helps provide support structures and helps individuals know there are others who will help carry the load for each other. Isolation can lead to loneliness and depression, especially if those social connections haven’t been forged while you are still healthy and mobile.
H – Practices Healthy behaviors. It is important to remember that we are each given only one body in this life, and we need to take good care of it. Your daily habits of eating nutritious food, being physically active and being engaged socially will serve you well, even in the event of a chronic illness or disease. None of us know what health issues may come our way, so if we work to keep our bodies in good physical condition, we can hopefully fight off illness and disease better.
E – Experiences gratitude. If you can retire from a career and have adequate income to meet your ongoing financial obligations, these are reasons to be grateful. While it is easy to be discouraged or impatient with the world around you, living your life from an attitude of gratitude is good for both your mental and emotional health.
S – Focuses on Strengths and abilities. It can be easy to get discouraged as we age and lose some abilities, or when a health setback prompts major changes to our routines. However, those with the ability to refocus on continuing strengths and adaptive behavioral changes, will fare better and have a more positive outlook on life. Rather than focusing on losses, find ways to adjust your viewpoint. As an example, for those tennis players whose knees are no longer allowing daily matches, many are finding pickleball to be an engaging, less physically taxing alternative.
As advisors, when discussing an impending retirement with a client, we naturally look first to confirm the financial independence they need to step away from employment income. Once that has been confirmed, the discussion quickly shifts to how things will change in retirement and how to properly prepare for those changes. The above considerations are part of our discussions with clients about what they are retiring to, what’s next. These non-financial discussions can really make a difference in helping have a high level of life satisfaction in your later years. If you’d like to investigate what “retiring to something” looks like, contact your advisor to set up a time to discuss.
1PNAS.org, Vol. 116, No. 4, Leading a Meaningful Life at Older Ages, January 22,2019, Volume 8, Article 517226; Frontiers in Medicine, fostering Well-being in the Elderly, April 2021, The Gerontologist Vol. 53, No. 6, 939-949; Perceptions of Successful Aging Among Diverse Elders with Late-Life Disability, December 11, 2012.