What in God’s name is a happy retirement? It is such a subjective concept. What I consider a happy retirement to be might sound like hell on earth to another person, and the same could be said in reverse. Does it have something to do with quality of life?
Truth be told, the whole concept of retirement is a dangerous one, and the proof of that can be easily seen by the number of people who die within a couple years of retirement. After living productive, busy years prior to retirement, structured decades of work, the years immediately following retirement are all too often filled with boredom, a lack of physical activity, and ultimately a forming of habits which are neither good mentally, emotionally, nor physically.
What does a happy retirement look like to you? Let’s explore that concept, with me sharing with all of you my thoughts on my own happy retirement, or at least my vision of what a happy retirement will look like in the near future.
Happy retirement is purely subjective in nature
There are currently 7.6 billion people on this planet. There are currently something like 350 million Americans in the year 2022. Each of them is taking life step by step, moving slowly towards the day when they will be able to retire and “enjoy the life of the leisure,” or at least that is the dream of many.
For some, a happy retirement is to live out the retirement years playing with the grandkids. For others, a happy retirement is a time when new interests are explored, whether that be birding or learning a new craft or living the RV lifestyle, or travel the world by air, train, and cruise ship.
In other words, we are all different and we all have a very personalized vision of what a happy retirement will look like.
Happy retirement may never happen for many who can’t afford to retire
And then there are those who will never be able to “retire,” not until their health dictates that they finally stop working and just survive. This group of people is rapidly increasing in number. Perhaps they are overextended in credit, and they will never be able to afford not to work. Perhaps their Social Security is inadequate to live on. Perhaps they have experienced prolonged unemployment. And perhaps their medical condition, and related bills, eat away at what money they do have, leaving them with no other choice than to work until they are no longer physically able to do so.
My current vision of a happy retirement
I admit, I never gave much thought to retirement when I was younger. I knew I was accumulating money in the Social Security system, but I was extremely bad at putting aside other monies for that “rainy day” once 65 finally arrived. I suppose I thought I would just get by financially, and have some spare time to do whatever it was that interested me in retirement, but, truthfully, I have no recollection of thinking about it decades ago.
Today I am retired. I took early retirement at 62, and Social Security plus a Teamsters retirement payment provide for a comfortable retirement . . . certainly not lavish, but enough to pay for necessities. I have medical coverage, we have a home which is increasing in value rapidly, and my wife and I are now just waiting eleven more months until the day she can take early retirement and we can move on to the next phase in our life, a part-time RV life.
And that phase looks like an Elusive Travel Trailer and a flurry of road trips with our two dogs, spending quality time together, living the RV lifestyle, and seeing things we never had the chance to see when we were younger, experiencing the wonder of life one day at a time.
A happy retirement for me will be my wife and I enjoying quality time together, a good quality of life, part-time on the road and part-time at home.
The bottom line for all of us
That is our vision of a happy retirement. I cannot speak for you. I hope you have a vision of a happy retirement, and I hope it is attainable.
I’ll catch you down the Road of Life!