How To Retire Happy: 7 Ways To Go About It

7 Tips For Happiness In Retirement

retire happy - this is how I am doing in pursuit of a happy retirement

We all want to retire happy. That’s tough to argue with even though happiness is different for everyone.

I read a very interesting article about retiring happy at GenYMoney a few weeks back that inspired me to write this article.

The blogger, known as GYM, wrote:

“How I Plan to Retire Happy by Including These 6 Things”

GYM’S RETIRE HAPPY ARTICLE

GYM is a millennial that is super focused on achieving FIRE. That stands for financial independence retire early. And she wrote about the 6 things she wanted to achieve in FIRE to be happy.

Essentially it was an article about her future self. It was a vision for a future of abundance. And living her brand of FIRE.

I’ve never been much on documenting specific goals for myself. They are just too confining for me. But I have always had a vision for the future.

I live by the saying “if you can envision it, you can achieve it. And that’s pretty much how I have approached my life.

WHAT’S UP WITH RETIRING HAPPY?

As I read her article, I thought that GYM is envisioning for herself exactly what I am living right now. You see she’s about 20 something years younger than me. She’s working to achieve FIRE, like I was 20 to 30 years ago.

I’m living her vision, because in many respects I had a similar one. So I thought it would be interesting to grade myself on her 6 things for retirement happiness.

Having declared my financial independence several years ago at the age of 48, how am I doing?

Have I retired happily? How do I measure up right now to the standards GYM will be holding herself to in her years to come?

How to be Happy In Early Retirement!

THE GRADING SCALE

Here is how I am going to grade myself in each area:

  • PASS – Achieving this goal and doing well at it
  • AVERAGE – Have made progress, but needs more work
  • FAIL – Doing lousy at this

RETIRE HAPPY-GOAL 1

GOAL – To not have to worry about finances and have enough income from investments so spending principle is not required

GRADE – PASS. We are doing fine here. The passive income from our investments more than covers our expenses. Both Mrs. DD and I work in encore careers that provide additional financial resources. Working is optional for us. Financially, we do not have to do so. We have started planning for “full-time retirement” living.

In addition, GYM desires to have enough money to have in-home care if necessary in her older years. Chronic, long term health and aging conditions are hard to budget for and very expensive if significant care is required.

This is where the question of how much is enough gets complicated. I think we have enough, but you never really know what the future will bring. We have elected not to purchase long term care insurance up to this point in time.

Related: Happiness money

RETIRE HAPPY-GOAL 2

GOAL – Have a life full of purpose, abundance, and meaning

GRADE – PASS. I’m doing well here. It fits with my “never retire philosophy“. Since turning financially independent, I have earned a master’s degree in accounting, teach part time at a local university and have started this personal finance website, Dividends Diversify.

As far as I’m concerned, I have plenty of purpose and meaning in retirement. There is not a day where I wonder what to do with my time.

RETIRE HAPPY-GOAL 3

GOAL – Exercise regularly and eat well

GRADE – AVERAGE. This is a hard one for me to grade. When I was in my 20’s and 30’s, I bicycled thousands of miles and jogged several half marathons. To do this I also ate pretty well.

I just don’t have the interest in or physical stamina for that type of extreme exercise anymore. I walk regularly, jog occasionally, stretch and do some light weights or planks. We do day hikes in the mountains when we go on vacation.

My nutrition is just ok. I do not enjoy cooking so I eat a lot of prepared foods, but avoid “fast food”. Certainly, I could do better. But overall, I do maintain a normal weight and good fitness for a person of my height and age.

RETIRE HAPPY-GOAL 4

GOAL – Calm the mind; focus on the present;  Be in the moment

GRADE – FAIL. Okay, I’m a disaster here. I worry about everything that could go wrong in the future. And my mind mulls over all of my failures of the past.

The only think I can say is that by living a life with purpose and meaning, my brain has less opportunity to look back and look forward.

Related: Feng Shui tips for good luck and wealth

RETIRE HAPPY-GOAL 5

GOAL – Cultivate interpersonal relationships

GRADE – FAIL. I am awful at this. I had lots of friends in high school and loved hanging out with them. But, I am really an introvert at heart. I do not enjoy spending a lot of time with others.

Mrs. DD is the exception. I’m not sure what I would do without her. I would have to develop a real social life I guess. I’m not unhappy about it, so I will just live in the moment here and not worry about it.

A man I worked with years ago used to say, “It’s hard to make new, old friends.” And I agree.

7 Ways to be Happy In Retirement

RETIRE HAPPY-GOAL 6

GOAL – Strike off my bucket list

GRADE – PASS. I’ve never exactly had a bucket list. More of a vision for the future that included teaching, writing and living in a more natural environment with access to the beauty of the outdoors for hiking, walking and other outdoor activities.

I have accomplished teaching and writing. We currently live in a beautiful neighborhood full of trees that is located in a very walkable town. Mrs. DD and I are now planning a future move to another part of the country with access to the mountains. This is a work in progress as we move toward “full-time” retirement.

RETIRE HAPPY-GOAL 7

GOAL – Do not live in fear of death or mortality

GRADE – PASS. I do not think about this very often, so I guess I pass. Most noteworthy, I do not fear death. I worry more about chronic health issues later in life.

HAPPY RETIREMENT-WRAP UP

That’s my assessment of early retirement so far. I must say these represent some very rich affirmations for a life well lived.

What does retirement happiness look like to you? Are you planning to retire happy?

20 thoughts on “How To Retire Happy: 7 Ways To Go About It”

  1. Good questions and thanks for the transparency. You have more passes than fails and average. And I too agree with the quote from your past co-worker. Lifelong friends are hard to come by,

    • The post actually motivated me SMM. I reached out to a couple of my closest friends from the past to wish them happy new year. It’s good to communicate with them again. Tom

  2. Hi Tom,

    To me, it looks like you’re doing admirably! Like you, I’m also an introvert and often depend on Lily to reach out to friends. I can get caught up in my own world and forget to call people, etc.

    Cheers,
    Miguel

    • Yes. We sound very similar. It’s good you can rely on Lily. That certainly helps to keep up the social circle. Tom

  3. Interesting perspective and set of questions, Tom. I’m glad you’re feeling fulfilled.

    I’m a long ways from my intended retirement at the age of 34. But these are similar questions that I’m asking right now about the current me – especially with starting a new chapter recently. -Mike

  4. Awe thank you so much for the mention and I really enjoyed reading your “FIRE” come to life!

    I think introverts do very very well with FIRE- how can we be bored, there’s no such thing, it’s almost like there’s not enough time for introverts lol.

    My mother in law doesn’t realize she’s an extrovert, but she did make a comment to my husband (who is an introvert, as am I) and said “well it’s good that you don’t get bored right now and you seem like you have a lot to keep you busy”

    Having a very fit 20’s and 30’s with cycling etc. has prepared you well for your health now, so that’s great!

    Glad to read that you reached out to your high school friends! I find it difficult to make new friends now too and don’t really feel the need to for now.

    • You are welcome for the mention and thank you for the inspiration. From one introvert to another, there isn’t enough time in the day. I joke with Mrs. DD that when I was a little boy I could busy myself for hours playing with a few paper clips. Tom

  5. Great post Tom…nice to see you continue to gauge your level of happiness in retirement. I also like that you had broken it down into different categories. I currently do annual goals for myself and I too like to separate the goals into different categories.

    Thanks for sharing. Best wishes! AFFJ.

  6. I am still young, but I know what you mean by the friend group shrinking. I would consider most to be acquaintances now. Probably say hi or talk to them if I passed in a social setting, but wouldn’t go out of my way to hang out with them. I don’t mind this actually. You keep the people close to you around and you put your time and energy into the relationships you want. And retirement you can do whatever you want. If you don’t want to go out and meet new people that’s fine. Sounds like a win as long as you are happy with everything which it sounds like you are. Glad retirement is working out well for you so far.

  7. I really enjoyed GYM’s post on this and it’s great to see your report from someone already living it. I’d say you’re doing pretty darn good.

    Like you, I’m also an introvert and have a very small group of friends that I’ve had since before high school. I think that’s part of the appeal to blogging for me, as it lets me connect virtually with like-minded people without the exhaustion of getting together in person.

    My wife and I are beginning to plan a move to the mountains as well, as we too love hiking. Our youngest starts college in the fall, and as he won’t be too far from our current home, my wife would like to stay here until he is done with school. But then we are looking to boogie out of town.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Re-locating seems a little intimidating to me DD having lived in the same area my entire life. Need to keep an open mind. Tom

      • You and me both, but I think it would be an exciting change. I’ve lived in the same area my entire life with the longest excursion being about 100 miles away when I went to school.

        We can real close to relocating to Seattle ages ago when I had a job offer to do consulting work at Microsoft, but we ended up staying where we were.

        • Interesting. Boring but, like you, I can draw a 100 mile radius from where I grew up and have never lived elsewhere. The future is exciting… Tom

  8. Hi Tom, a great post. I got to read GYM’s article. I’m just back from China.

    You are doing very well. Regarding “Cultivate interpersonal relationships”, I’m not good at it either. As an introvert, I feel more comfortable with small groups, and people I have known for years. This time while in China, I reached out to more of my college classmates, and found out it was very cool to hang out with them, though I seldom talked to some of them before.

  9. Just read your article and I fail in the same areas you fail in. I wish I could at least get to an “ok”.

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