Do you dream of retiring one day? What do you imagine life will be like when that day finally comes? Lazy days at the beach? Living in an RV traveling from coast to coast? Exploring the world? Taking dream vacations? Or perhaps more time to serve your community of faith? 

Retirement means something different to everyone. But the one thing we all have in common is the hope and desire for more freedom – to finally live life on our terms.

Think about it—no more morning commutes, vacation requests, deadlines, or overtime. 

Many people view retirement as the day when their life finally begins. But does retirement live up to its imagined reputation? Here are some good, bad, and ugly truths about retirement. 

Retirement Statistics

According to studies from the National Center for Health Statistics, the average 65-year old today can expect to live until they’re almost 84. That’s six and a half years longer than back in 1940.

Living longer is one of the main reasons retirees are forced to reenter the workplace. But that might not be as depressing as it sounds because seven out of 10 people view working while they’re retired as a good thing.

According to, 38% percent of people surveyed say they chose to return to work during their retirement.

But there’s a group of retirees that aren’t so happy. They’re the ones (35%) who say that they don’t have a choice but to work because they need the money to survive. 

And then there’s the group of retirees (about 27%) who say they enjoy the work but admit they rely on the few extra dollars they make each month. 

But here’s the scary thing: Over 47% of retirees worry that they may outlive their retirement savings.

Retirement: Truths vs. Reality

So many of us imagine freedom-filled golden years of exotic vacations, doing whatever we want whenever we want with whomever we want. Total freedom! Cruises. Golf courses. Worry-free life in the sand and sun, learning new languages, and pursuing fun hobbies. Others want to enjoy more time with their kids and grandkids.  

However, reality can be a big bucket of ice water on our dreams because for many people, retirement becomes a time of slow disconnection from the life and friends they once knew and enjoyed. Sadly, the golden years feel unfulfilling and purposeless for many retirees, with days filled with loneliness. 

Before long, they struggle with stress and anxiety. Other symptoms many retirees suffer from are obesity and high blood pressure from living a more sedentary lifestyle than before, with days filled with too much TV and poor nutrition, resulting in chronic unhappiness and disease.  

To make it worse, retirees typically use less and less of their cognitive skills, which leads to a decline in focus and concentration associated with dementia.

Wait, it gets even uglier. According to the Institute of Economic Affairs, the risk of clinical depression goes up by about 40% after retiring. Why? Lack of structure and the schedule of having a steady job and losing the intellectual and social stimulation work provides. 

When people retire, they walk away from a life they once knew filled with daily social connection and the certainty that comes with daily routine – which they used to dislike or even hate but now, strangely, miss more than ever. 

For some people, retiring is similar to a grieving process that they must process step-by-step in order to fully accept their new reality, to which they will eventually adapt and adjust.

It’s More Than About Saving Money & Creating Wealth 

Financial planners promote the dream that saving enough money to pay for all of your future years is the pathway to a lifetime of happiness and stress-free living. Save enough money, and you can quit working eventually to start living the life of your dreams finally!

But in reality, many people find that retirement is little more than living out their remaining years in slow decline and running out of money along the way. 

What if we redefined retirement? What if we designed the kind of life – a lifestyle of purpose and fulfillment – that we bring with us into retirement?

Would it be such a bad thing to find or create a part-time income during retirement, not only for a financial cushion but also to keep the mind sharp and enjoy regular social connections? 

You can only spend so many days at the beach or on the golf course before that way of living also becomes dull, routine, and unfulfilling. 

A Bigger Picture

There’s more to life than withering away at home and worrying about what you’re going to do if you outlive your nest egg.  

Many of today’s newly retired embrace a bigger perspective and are searching for jobs that fit into their new chapter of life. It could be full-time, part-time, non-profit volunteer work! They realize that they have a wealth of wisdom and experience to share with the younger generations. 

Many are renewing their commitment to growing and learning new things and meeting new people. According to research, socially active retirees enjoy better physical, mental, and emotional health.

When you retire, your life doesn’t have to be thrown onto the dreary pile of retirement statistics. Nor does it mean you live out your remaining years apathetically or in slow decline.

Retirement can mean that you’re blazing a new path reignited with new purpose. More than ever, you get to shape the rules.  

Sure, you can sit in your favorite chair and watch game shows all day. OR, you can use the extra time at your disposal to continue unlocking your best life! You can enjoy healthy food, and keep yourself in good condition, mentally, emotionally, and physically. 

Here are a few other things you might consider trying to stay happy and healthy during your retirement:

  • Volunteer at local shelters, soup kitchens, or any non-profit organization
  • Take a class to keep your mind sharp and meet new people with similar interests
  • Go on regular walks or join a gym
  • Practice yoga, meditation, or tai chi
  • Teach a class
  • Be an active participant in your faith community
  • Set up a daily routine that fulfills you, and stick to it

Being Active In Senior Years

Whether you choose to continue working to some degree during retirement, staying active during the golden years is essential to retaining and maintaining functional independence, which becomes increasingly more important as we age. These are various ways one can stay healthy and energetic. 

  1. Choose Your Favorite Activity: Instead of opting for an exercise program that you don’t like or enjoy (which means you won’t stick with it anyway), why not choose a favorite activity that adds more physical movement to your day? Make ‘being active’ fun and easy.

Some Great Options

  • Walking
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Gardening
  • Weight Training: This helps you gain muscle mass lost as part of the aging process and increases bone density, making for stronger bones.

Please consult your doctor before starting any exercise program

Measure Your Progress

Record your progress in a notebook or journal so you can adjust your physical routine accordingly. Plus, measuring progress has been shown to increase motivation. 

Wear Comfortable Clothing While Training

Wear comfortable clothes that offer enough ventilation and flexibility for you to move freely. Also, wear appropriate shoes to protect your feet and joints, especially if you have diabetes.

Drink up to rehydrate AND to prevent dehydration overall. 

Seniors Who Have Had Little To No Experience With Being Physically Active

Better late than never! Even if you have never exercised or have completely stopped exercising, you can always start now. Even by performing simple exercises such as a brisk walk early morning, you can develop muscle mass and help strengthen your bones. 

Some of the Many Benefits of Enjoying Physical Activity Regularly as a Senior Adult

  • Science proves that being active in old age helps prevent or delay chronic disease and disability.
  • Improves metabolism, blood circulation, and immune system health, and delays cognitive decline.
  • Active senior adults have less stress and depression and are more often in a good mood than their counterparts who don’t engage in regular physical activity. 

Replenishing your mind, body, and soul with regular physical activity is the closest thing to the Fountain of Youth we have. It will keep you young, energized, and physically fit. As a result, you will have more time, energy, and years to enjoy not only your retirement but also the ones you love and cherish most while living to make the world a better place. 

A Final Note

Retirement is a milestone to celebrate! Take a look at everything you’ve accomplished. You should be proud! You’re wiser, more experienced, and so much more resilient and tougher than you were a few decades ago, and much more resourceful too.

So many people look forward to retirement desperately but aren’t sure what to do with it when the day finally comes. 

The time to take charge is now. Make a list of everything you’d like to accomplish in your golden years that you believe will make your retirement more enjoyable. Then, get out there today and start designing that life by putting the necessary building blocks in place because one thing is for sure, that day will come faster, much faster, than you realize.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

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